By Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Lampert
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada on Thursday hailed the news it would not immediately be subject to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum while promising to continue lobbying Washington until the threat of duties had disappeared.
President Donald Trump announced the imposition of 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminum on Thursday but said Canada and Mexico would be exempt as long as talks to update the NAFTA trade deal progressed.
"Today is a step forward. There's more hard work to do, and we will not let up," said Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who led what officials called an aggressive lobbying campaign to persuade Trump to grant an exemption.
Freeland, speaking in Toronto, also told reporters that "this work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted".
Pressed repeatedly about Trump's decision to link the tariff exemption to progress at the talks on NAFTA, which are going slowly amid U.S. demands for major changes, Freeland said Canada considered the two tracks to be totally separate.
"We will not stand by while Canadians' livelihoods are put at risk," she said.
Trudeau called Trump on Monday to stress his concerns about the tariffs, officials said.
"We are continuing to push on getting the right deal for Canada, getting the right deal for Canadians, getting the right deal for everyone," Trudeau said in a separate interview on Breakfast Television.
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