Chretien urges Bush to get backing of U.N.

Leaders talk about Iraq, tour new border crossing

September 10, 2002|By HEARST NEWSPAPERS

DETROIT - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien met with President Bush here yesterday and urged him to win the support of the United Nations before launching any U.S. attack against Iraq.

The admonition by the leader of one of the closest U.S. allies underscored the challenges that Bush faces trying to galvanize international support behind a U.S. effort to seek a "regime change" in Baghdad by removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Bush coupled his meeting with Chretien with telephone diplomacy with other world leaders three days before an address at the United Nations.

"I want him to go and have an international coalition with the U.N. and go and convince other countries through the United Nations," Chretien told reporters after the border summit with Bush.

"It's extremely important to follow the processes of the United Nations."

Chretien said he agreed with Bush that the Iraqi dictator had "done terrible things in the past" but that the U.S. president had not tied Iraq to the al-Qaida terrorist network during their private 30-minute discussion.

"They are not relating it to al-Qaida at the moment," the prime minister said, adding that Bush had neither outlined a plan to take on Iraq nor asked Canada for support against Iraq.

Bush and Chretien met at a downtown convention center here before touring a high-tech border crossing designed to speed the flow of truck traffic across the soaring Ambassador Bridge, the busiest U.S.-Canada crossing along the 5,000-mile border.

Neither Bush nor Chretien publicly referred to Iraq during remarks at the bridge. Instead, the two leaders stood beneath American and Canadian flags draped from the suspension bridge spanning the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario, and touted their personal friendship and the $1.3 billion-a-day trade relationship between the two nations.

Chretien was "a plain-spoken fellow, with a good sense of humor," Bush remarked. "Probably won't go too good up here in Canada - but he'd be a great Texan."

Chretien hailed Bush for "the skill and resolve you showed in rallying the world against the terror network of al-Qaida."

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