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Old 12-12-2003, 10:15 AM   #31
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Canada not excluded from Iraq business

Thursday, December 11, 2003

President Bush comments on the Iraq contracts issue at cabinet Thursday morning.

CREDIT: Associated Press, Ron Edmonds

OTTAWA -- U.S. President George W. Bush is grateful for help in the war on terrorism and is ''working'' to include Canada in hefty contracts to help rebuild Iraq, he said in a farewell phone call to retiring Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

''He thanked me for what we're doing in Afghanistan and for the offer of money in the reconstruction of Iraq,'' Chretien told a news conference Thursday.

''As for the news in the newspapers stating that Canada would be excluded from economic activities in Iraq, the president assured me that this was not the case, and that he would be taking action,'' Chretien said. ''And so I thanked him.

''We are still good friends.''

The United States announced this week that countries which did not support the U.S.-led war in Iraq last spring, including Canada, would not be allowed to bid on reconstruction contracts worth $18 billion.

But Chretien said Bush called Thursday and, ''he was telling me basically not to worry.''

The prime minister, who retires Friday, received the call before 8 a.m. at 24 Sussex Dr.

The president's exact words on the issue were: ''We are working to rectify the situation,'' said Chretien spokesman Stephen Hogue.

Bush's comments to Chretien seemed to fly in the face of what he was saying at home.

He told reporters in Washington on Thursday that countries which sent troops to Iraq should share in the American-financed reconstruction projects while other nations are shut out.

''What I'm saying is, in the expenditure of the taxpayers' money . . . the U.S. people, the taxpayers, understand why it makes sense for countries that risked lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq. It's very simple. Our people risked their lives, friendly coalition folks risked their lives and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that.''

Presidential spokesman Scott McLellan later said: ''We'll be glad to discuss the issue with you,'' when asked about Canada's status.

Incoming prime minister Paul Martin said Wednesday that he couldn't fathom the U.S. move to shun its northern neighbour, especially after Canada has pledged nearly $300 million for Iraq reconstruction.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan are also ''carrying a very, very heavy load'' in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Martin said.

He said he would raise the matter with the U.S. ambassador.

Deputy Prime Minister John Manley suggested Canada may cut aid to Iraq in response to the U.S. snub.

Chretien and Bush talked for about 10 minutes Thursday, said Chretien spokeswoman Thoren Hudyma.

Bush congratulated Chretien ''on your very, very distinguished and honourable career,'' Hudyma said, quoting the president.

Chretien was ''very moved,'' she said.

''The prime minister said to Bush: 'You know we've had a few disagreements in the past, but relations between our two countries have never been better.''

Hudyma described the chat as very warm and cordial.

The two leaders have never formed the kind of bond Chretien enjoyed with former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

There was an infamous incident just over a year ago when former Chretien press aide Francoise Ducros called Bush ''a moron.'' She lost her job after Chretien's attempts to defend her were widely mocked in the U.S. media.

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Old 12-12-2003, 10:00 PM   #32
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Originally posted by Elvis Presley

But Chretien said Bush called Thursday and, ''he was telling me basically not to worry.''

They are all talking to the wrong person, The President that is. They should be talking to Dick Cheney and Company. Now that's somone who knows how to make/steal money.

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