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Canadian Prime Minister & Obama

Harper Pledges Cooperation With Obama on Credit, Climate, Oil

By Greg Quinn and Theophilos Argitis

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's victory this week ``historic'' and pledged to cooperate with him on issues ranging from the financial crisis to climate change.

Harper spoke with Obama by phone today and the two leaders vowed to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, the Canadian prime minister's office said in a statement. The men briefly talked about the global economic summit taking place in Washington Nov. 14-15, according to the statement.

Harper said earlier today that he would use the phone call to reiterate Canada's desire to be a ``secure'' supplier of energy to the U.S., its main trading partner, and to discuss the war in Afghanistan, where both nations have troops.

``We obviously recognize the major challenges that await Mr. Obama and we intend to work in full cooperation with him,'' Harper, 49, told reporters today in Toronto.

The Canadian and U.S. economies may be slipping into recession, with consumers and businesses shaken by the worst crisis in financial markets since the Great Depression. Canada sends three-quarters of its exports to the U.S., and shipments of automobiles and lumber have slumped as Americans halt major purchases as their pensions and stock portfolios shrink.

Harper, whose Conservative Party won re-election on Oct. 14 after promising to avoid ``risky'' economic measures, called the election of Obama, 47, this week ``a tremendous and truly inspiring moment'' in political history.

``Everyone, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is quite excited by the possibility of change in the U.S.,'' Harper said, pledging to maintain Canada's traditional role as America's ``most reliable'' ally.

Climate Cooperation

Canada and the U.S. may be able to cooperate further on cutting the greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists say cause global warming, Harper said.

``It's almost essential for Canada to manage this problem in coordination with the U.S., because we share the same economy, we share the same continent, and we need a partner in the matter of the environment if we are to make progress,'' Harper said.

Harper is proposing a climate-change pact with Obama that would protect Alberta's oil sands projects from potential new U.S. rules. Canadian cabinet ministers yesterday called for the agreement, which would adopt common emissions standards while promoting the oil sands, the Globe and Mail reported.

Obama has condemned U.S. reliance on ``dirty oil'' and his advisers have specifically mentioned the oil sands.

``The U.S. faces major challenges if you are talking about energy security, and Canada for the U.S. remains the major source of energy and the most secure source of energy,'' Harper said when asked about possible restrictions on the oil sands.

Canada shipped C$91.6 billion ($76.4 billion) of energy products including crude oil and electricity to the U.S. last year, according to Canada's trade department. Alberta's tar sand deposits represent the biggest oil reserves outside of the Middle East.
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