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Obama, Canada's Harper Talk Trade, Clean Energy During First Meeting

In his first foreign trip since his inauguration, President Barack Obama told Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper that he strongly supports trade between the two countries and that the U.S. economic stimulus package he signed earlier this week would not impede their business relationships. "I recognize the concerns of Canada, given how significant trade with the United States is to the Canadian economy," said Obama in a post-meeting news conference. "I provided Prime Minister Harper an assurance that I want to grow trade and not contract it. And I don't think there was anything in the recovery package that is adverse to that goal." The two countries have the world's largest two-way trading relationship. Regarding energy and the environment, the two leaders discussed a joint initiative to strengthen research and development on clean energy, including the reduction of carbon emissions and the development of a shared electricity grid. "I'm quite optimistic that we now have a partner on the North American continent that -- that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue, and I think that's an important development," said Harper. The New York Times reports that the United States is the largest importer of Canadian oil and that the Canadian government is seeking an agreement to exempt Canada's oil sands from any new American environmental regulations.

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