Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama's Trip To Canada Set for Feb. 19

Swamp: The president's first international trip - it was previously announced that Obama will be Canada-bound, like many new presidents before him - will come Feb. 19.

The White House, which announced the date today, released no other details. While the capital, Ottawa, is a natural stop, others are being considered, according to an administration official who spoke with the A.P. under the cloak of anonymity.

"This is a testament, not just to the size of our trading relationship and the closeness of our alliance, but also the strength of our friendship," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons today.

Parliament will not be in session the week of Obama's visit, making an address to Parliament unlikely.

From the Toronto Star:
Confirmation of the visit comes after Obama and Harper spoke by telephone on Friday to discuss dates and the early outline of an agenda for the meeting.

Harper said that the economy would likely top the agenda although he expected that the environment, climate change and energy security would also be discussed during the visit.

In an interview with the Star last week, Harper predicted that Obama's administration would mark a "fresh start" for relations between the two countries.

"I think that we now have a new administration that Canadians are clearly very comfortable with, at least out of the gate," Harper told the Star.

Harper said Obama's presidency is a "real opportunity" to move forward. "I think everybody acknowledges that Canada-U.S. relations improved after our government came to office. But I actually think they probably could have improved more," he said.

He said the chance of even better relations was hindered by the focus of the administration of former president George W. Bush on domestic U.S. problems.

Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, made his first foreign visit to Mexico.