Bush Seeks To Boost Canada, Mexico Ties: AP

August 20, 2007 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OTTAWA – President Bush, tending to relations with two border nations, will try to give a boost Monday to his partnerships with the like-minded leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Bush’s two-day summit with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon is the third of its kind during his presidency.
Each one has been meant to bolster an evolving compact — dubbed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America — that serves as a way for the nations to team up on health, security and commerce.

Yet for Bush, the event also allows him to show he does not take his neighbors for granted; they are both vital trading partners and energy providers for the U.S.

“The message for Canada and Mexico is that despite the ongoing emphasis on Iraq and terrorism in U.S. foreign policy … the U.S. is investing time and attention on relationships with our own region,” said Chris Sands, a scholar of North American studies and senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The partnership of the countries is a framework for working out problems — not a deal that was ever intended to produce dramatic announcements. None are expected at the summit.

Personally, Bush shares plenty of views with Harper and Calderon, two fellow conservatives and free-market advocates who have come into power during his second term.

It’s not all cheery. The summit is drawing protests from critics of Canada’s troop presence in Afghanistan and of the partnership among the three countries. Some Canadians see it as an insidious threat to their sovereignty, led by the United States.

Police were out in force Sunday in Ottawa, where protests began even before Bush was to arrive Monday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The summit itself will take place about 50 miles to the east at a luxury resort in Montebello, Quebec, where security is even tighter.

The broad theme of the summit is economic prosperity, built around several topics: border security, competitiveness with India and China, product safety and energy solutions.

Bush will also be faced with matters of specific concern to each of the countries.

He will first meet with Harper at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, a luxury resort made out of one of the world’s largest log cabins.

Bush is sure to thank Harper for Canada’s commitment to keeping troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Harper is frustrated over a U.S. law that tightened passport rules for Canadians visiting the U.S., although Bush has pledged to enforce it and has little leeway.

Harper is also expected to assert his nation’s claim to the fabled Northwest Passage through the resource-rich Arctic. Competition to control the Arctic has intensified with global warming; Russia sent two small submarines to plant a tiny national flag under the North Pole this month. The U.S. and Norway also have claims.

Bush and Calderon will have their own one-on-one session later Monday.

With them, the messy issue of immigration looms large. The last time these two leaders met, in March in Mexico, Bush was optimistic about getting a new immigration law.

Since then, his plan died in Congress.

So Bush recently issued an executive order meant to tighten border security, streamline guest-worker programs and pressure employers to fire illegal immigrant workers.

The U.S. government has been working on a major aid package to help Calderon fight drug trafficking in Mexico. The deal may be announced in part or in whole at the summit.

The three leaders will join at day’s end for dinner, then resume talks Tuesday.(AP)


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