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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 06:18 GMT
Bush and Chretien break the ice
Jean Chretien and George W Bush
Mr Chretien and Mr Bush aired their differences
US President George W Bush has held his first meeting with a foreign leader, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Officials described the meeting as "extremely cordial", with consultation promised on controversial issues such as oil drilling in Alaska and the US national missile defence system.

Mr Chretien invited Mr Bush to go fishing with him at his prime ministerial retreat.


I've got a preference for friends, and the Canadians are long-standing friends

George W Bush
And Mr Bush was anxious to reassure Canada of US friendship following his decision to make his first foreign trip to Mexico City instead of Ottawa.

US presidents traditionally make their first foreign trip to the Canadian capital. Mr Chretien's visit to Washington is widely seen in Canada as an effort at consolation.

The two leaders met for 40 minutes in the White House and then had a working dinner.

Officials said prior to the meeting that there would be no effort to reach any agreements.

But one US aide quoted Mr Bush as saying that it had not taken long to break the ice between the two men.

Differences

Mr Chretien said that he felt like a cousin coming to visit.

But after the meeting he spelt out differences on trade issues, missile defence and energy policy.

Canada has declined to support Mr Bush's proposal for the missile shield.

The Canadians are also unhappy at the prospect of oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic national wildlife refuge.

Exploration there could threaten the survival of the caribou, which is vital to Canada's native population.

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28 Nov 00 | Americas
Canadians give Chretien third term
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