U.S.-Canada relations begin thawing

Nov. 21, 2003 at 1:48 PM

OTTAWA, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Canada's prime minister-in-waiting expects to meet with U.S. President George Bush as early as January.

Liberal Party leader Paul Martin said he has already spoken with U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci, who congratulated him after the Liberal leadership convention where Martin was elected to replace the retiring Jean Chretien beginning Dec. 12.

Martin said he expects to meet Bush at the Summit of the Americas in Mexico, CTV News reported Friday.

In the three years since he was sworn in as president, Bush has yet to pay a formal visit to Canada. He canceled a state visit to Ottawa last spring, widely seen as anger with Chretien's refusal to participate in the war in Iraq.

A U.S. State Department official said an invitation to the president's ranch would be an unmistakable signal the administration sees Martin's arrival as an opportunity to turn the page.

World leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australia's Prime Minister John Howard have been guests at Bush's ranch, but Chretien never received such an invitation.

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