Martin firm on missile defence results in chilly response from White House
Thursday, March 3, 2005
Senior Canadian officials said Tuesday that U.S. president George W. Bush has not returned a telephone call Paul Martin made to him last week, due to the Canadian government's decision to not participate in the U.S. missile defence initiative.
The Prime Minister was hoping explain Canada's reasons for saying no.
Although the White House has formally stated it's "disappointment" on the decision, it also stated that Bush would likely talk with Martin on the issue when the two meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox on March 23 to discuss the future of NAFTA, the North American free trade agreement.
A Martin spokesperson told the Toronto Star that "the decision to not participate (in ballistic missile defence) ... was Canada's alone to take ... The Bush administration, while disappointed in the decision, recognizes that fact and is not seeking apologies." The CanWest News Service reported that another Martin spokesperson, Melanie Gruer, played down the reports by saying that "The President has been travelling," and that Prime-minister Martin's aides acknowledge the pressures on busy leaders' schedules.
U.S. officials had mentioned that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's decision to postpone a visit to Ottawa was in response to the non-participation decision. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew spoke twice to Ms. Rice, finally ensuring that she will come to Canada as planned, despite concerns it was cancelled over the disagreement.
Martin, orgininally backed the missile defence initiative and committed to closer co-operation with Washington when he came to office in 2004. This position was reversed last week
- Bush won't call PM, CanWest News Service, March 2, 2005.
- Martin firm on missiles, The Toronto Star, March 2, 2005.
- Rice's trip to Canada is back on, The Globe and Mail, March 2, 2005.