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PM, Bush talk softwood
Date: Saturday, October 15 2005
Topic:


PM, Bush talk softwood

By ALLISON DUNFIELD

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Paul Martin telephoned U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday to talk about trade issues, ending months of opposition criticism that he had waited too long to address the issues with the United States.

Mr. Martin said he made it clear in the call that the United States must respect a binding North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) ruling in Canada's favour on softwood lumber.

"At the heart of NAFTA is the dispute-settlement mechanism. With respect to softwood, Canada has won panel after panel. And the Supreme Court of NAFTA has determined that Canada is right. So, we want that to be respected," he told reporters Friday morning in Saint-Théophile, Que., where he was attending the opening of a new border crossing.


He said that the issue is basically about the United States' abiding by a decision that was made.

"NAFTA must be respected. And we will do everything we need to do to ensure that it is."

But neither leader budged from their original position during the 20-minute chat, officials said.

"It was a call to make our position clear," an official in the Prime Minister's Office told globeandmail.com. Of the 20-minute call, 15 minutes were focused on maintaining the integrity of NAFTA, the official said.

Mr. Bush said that, while the U.S. wants NAFTA to work, he believes that the way forward is negotiation.

The Prime Minister said he does not see any sense in negotiating "a victory we've already won," the official said......"

"The President began the conversation by thanking Mr. Martin for Canada's assistance to the victims of hurricane Katrina, saying that, when he landed in Biloxi, Miss., the first people he saw were Canadians helping out".

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 15, 2005]

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