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Clinton Defends Chretien

Posted on Thursday, November 27 at 23:44 by canadaka

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join the U.S.-led war in Iraq, calling the Bush administration's criticism of Canada's stand uncalled for and offensive.

In a Time magazine article about Canada-U.S. relations, Clinton took issue with President George W. Bush and other senior administration officials who criticized Chretien's unwillingness to commit Canadian troops to the war.

Republican complaints that Canada, France and Mexico were soft on terrorism by refusing to join the war was unjustified and failed to take into account Chretien's strong belief in getting authorization from the United Nations, Clinton wrote.

"It was a low moment in our long and mostly happy coexistence. And it was uncalled for, because Canada has been such a strong ally of the U.S. in so many areas involving our mutual security, from border control to our duties as NATO members to the campaign against al-Qaida in Afghanistan," he said.

Clinton said the Bush administration failed to recognize Canada's contribution to Afghanistan, including "the brave soldiers who died there," in its criticism of Chretien's refusal to commit troops to Iraq without UN authorization.

Four Canadian troops died after a U.S. plane mistakenly bombed them in April 2002.

"Two thousand Canadian soldiers are serving in Afghanistan today," he wrote. "To denounce Canada when Canadians are fighting and dying in the war on terrorism is offensive to all who value our long friendship."

Clinton said Bush must put Canada-U.S. relations back on track and cooperate with other allies instead of turning to unilateralism and resorting to the use of force.

"The U.S. can win military conflicts alone. But as we see every day in Iraq, building peace requires partners. Moreover, since we cannot kill, imprison or occupy all our actual potential adversaries, we must find non-military means to make more friends and fewer terrorists. That too requires cooperation with our allies."

Clinton praised Chretien as a valued friend, "whose intelligence, experience, common touch and common sense made him an extraordinarily effective leader."

He expressed gratitude Chretien committed $100 million to deliver lifesaving medicine to people living with AIDS in Africa and said he was confident prime minister-designate Paul Martin "will continue the path of leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS."

Chretien has a cool relationship with Bush that led the president to cancel a visit to Ottawa earlier this year, which observers interpreted as U.S. retaliation for Canada's refusal to fight in Iraq.

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