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'It Will Take Some Time' To Mend This Fence

Posted on Saturday, May 31 at 09:34 by polemarch1

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That disappointment will not go of course away easily and it will take some time [to heal].

"When friends are in a position where we say our security's at stake, we would have thought, as we got from any of our friends, that the answer would have been, 'Well, how can we help?' " she said in the most expansive expression yet of U.S. unhappiness over the Canadian position.

She said Mr. Bush is also puzzled by this week's comments by Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, who criticized the U.S. President's economic policies and suggested he himself has done a better job.

Ms. Rice said the US$330-billion tax-cut package and other stimulus measures taken by the Bush administration will lead to greater economic growth and more jobs. "And one of the great beneficiaries of that, of course, will be Canada because it is an economy that is extremely connected to the American economy and so the President is doing what he can to stimulate economic growth.''

The Chrétien government did not support the U.S.-led war on Iraq though it contributed troops to battle the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. France and Germany also balked at joining the war.

Ms. Rice said a "disproportionate" share of dealing with international terrorism fell on the shoulders of the United States, which looked for allies in the battle because "these are values we share with our long-time friends."

"So, yes, there was some disappointment that there seemed to be some questioning of American motives and some lack of understanding that we were simply trying to do in support of our own security and support of everyone's else security," she said.

However, she had praise for Ottawa's moves on counter-terrorism and improving border security.

"The homeland security directors have been constant companions," she said, referring to John Manley, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Tom Ridge, secretary of Homeland Security.

"I think all of North America is safer because of the work we have been able to do."

The G8 leaders are discussing global security and economic growth. No formal bilateral talks are planned between Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Bush.

Travelling in Europe before the G8 meeting, Mr. Chrétien told reporters Mr. Bush was putting the fragile international economy at risk by running up a deficit to pay for the tax cut and other spending. Most economists expect the U.S. government deficit to hit US$385-billion this year, up from its current US$248-billion.

"I see a return to the situation that existed in 1991-92, where everybody was getting deeper and deeper in deficit," Mr. Chrétien said, pointing out Ottawa had eliminated its $42-billion deficit.

"Everyone should work on the problem of the accumulation [of deficits] because what will happen eventually is that the ... savings that will go to pay the deficits of all the nations will be money that will not be available for investments in the private sectors and so on."

Mr. Manley defended Mr. Chrétien's comment, insisting he did not mean to insult the U.S. President.

"He made an observation of political differences between himself and the President, but I don't think the President would disagree with any of those," he said.

Ms. Rice said she welcomed the decision of Parliament to launch talks on missile defence, and said she had no problems with Canadian objections to space-based weapons since they are still a long way from being developed.

But the United States is particularly happy Russia has signalled it is prepared to join in developing a missile defence system to protect countries against rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.

"Once we broke the Cold War hold, a lot of countries began to move in," she said.

Although the United States is worried Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction out of its nuclear energy program, as well as harbouring al-Qaeda terrorists, Ms. Rice refused to say whether the administration is trying to engineer regime change in Tehran.

"The policy of the administration is that the Iranian regime should start to act like the elected regime -- like an elected regime that is pursuing the aspirations of the Iranian people," she said.

"And we have a long list of things with the Iranians that they clearly are not doing in that regard."

Mr. Bush's overseas trip includes stops in Poland and Russia before heading for Evian.

Mr. Bush plans to leave the summit early to head to Egypt for a meeting of Arab leaders, then to Jordan for Middle East peace talks with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers.

Mr. Bush said that while U.S. relations with France are scarred because of the attempts of Jacques Chirac, the French President, to block the war in Iraq, he also insisted this would not mar the G8 summit being hosted by France.

Note: Source: The National Post

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