Vive Le Canada

Rice charms and chills as she warns Canada to negotiate softwood impasse
Date: Wednesday, October 26 2005

Rice charms and chills as she warns Canada to negotiate softwood impasse
07:10 PM EDT Oct 25

OTTAWA (CP) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hadn't even left town Tuesday afternoon before the righteous indignation of the Liberal government started anew.

Rice wrapped up a 22-hour visit to Canada - the first in her role as America's top diplomat - with cordial words but nary a sign of any give on some of Canada's key bilateral complaints.

She assured Canadians that the word of the United States is "as good as gold" but straight-armed demands for the immediate return of $3.5 billion in contested softwood lumber duties.

"It's extremely important not to speak in apocalyptic language about this issue," Rice told a news conference, warning that the rhetoric - if not the softwood dispute itself - could harm wider Canada-U.S. relations to the detriment of both countries.

She reiterated the U.S. position that Canada must return to the negotiating table on softwood.

Rice also politely reminded Prime Minister Paul Martin that her country is already deeply involved in combating the illegal trade in firearms across the border. Behind closed doors, she flatly rejected Martin's new assertion that the Americans are to blame for rising Canadian gun crimes.

Rice's unmistakable diplomatic message: Washington is staying the course, so chill out, Canada.

Canada's unmistakable rejoinder: The U.S. can't flout the North American Free Trade Agreement on softwood lumber and expect Canada to let it pass.

"We're going to have disputes," Rice told a news conference, flanked by Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

But softwood lumber, she said, "is not the only issue in the U.S.-Canada relationship and it certainly should not be an issue that somehow is allowed to undermine our very good working relationship on a whole host of issues."

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 27, 2005]

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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