OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the White House on Wednesday for talks with President Barack Obama on the global recession, “buy American” provisions and environmental and other issues.
Here are the key topics.
The meeting is a week ahead of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, and the leaders are likely to say that, even though there is a light is at the end of the recessionary tunnel, stimulus packages should be maintained.
The Canadian government and provinces have proposed to allow companies access to most state and provincial government contracts as an answer to “buy American” rules that are seen as big obstacles to the world’s largest trading partnership. The two sides have appointed negotiators but a final deal will not be emerging on Wednesday.
Harper and Obama are expected to discuss how to pacify Afghanistan in the long term. Canada is scheduled to pull its forces out in mid-2011; Harper argues that the West has to give Afghanistan a deadline for taking over its own security.
The two countries are seeking joint cap-and-trade rules to fight climate change but this is unlikely to materialize this week, particularly as Obama’s attention is fixed on health care. They are likely to focus on more co-operation in carbon capture and sequestering by injecting it underground.
Both sides want to make it quicker and easier for traffic to cross the border, while still being vigilant on national security. This could mean more bridges at some crossing points or it may mean simply adding lanes at border customs plazas.
The symbolism is important for Harper to repay Obama’s visit to Ottawa with a visit to Washington. As well, with the possibility of an election within the year, the unspoken subtext is that Harper hopes that some of Obama’s popularity with Canadians will rub off on him.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson
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