Obama chooses Canada for first visit abroad

January 11th, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaToronto, Jan 11 (IANS) Barack Obama will make his first trip abroad to Canada after taking oath as the US president Jan 20.Traditionally, American presidents have chosen neighbouring Canada for their first visit abroad after taking oath. However, the outgoing president George Bush broke away with that tradition by travelling to Mexico.

A statement by the office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “We have been in close contact with President-elect Obama’s transition team.

“We can confirm that the president-elect has accepted the prime minister’s invitation to visit Canada soon after he is inaugurated. This will be Obama’s first foreign visit.”

Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent said Canadians were “honoured and thrilled he has chosen Canada” for his first visit abroad.

Since the US accounts for more than 85 percent of all Canadian trade, the economy will top the agenda for talks between the two leaders.

With the new US president favouring a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the issue will come up during their talks.

The war in Afghanistan - where Canada has decided to end its mission in 2011 despite pressure from the Bush administration - will also be part of their talks.

The visit will help the Conservative Canadian prime minister and the liberal US president to establish good working relationship.

Details of the visit have not been announced.

During the US presidential campaign, an overwhelming majority of Canadians had favoured Obama against John McCain.

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