- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

Canada warned the United States yesterday against imposing overly tight security at its northern border in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks because such a measure would be "very punishing" to both countries' economies.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley, in Washington for a meeting with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and a gathering of the Organization of American States, pledged his government's support "in every manner" for the U.S.-led global campaign against terrorism.

But he cautioned the Bush administration to "go very carefully" about dealing with border security and urged it to keep the Canadian-U.S. border "as open as possible."

"We always worry that some U.S. legislators will decide to show that they have been doing something on border-security issues and take action to tighten the Canadian border, and that will have serious economic implications," Mr. Manley said in an interview.

About 25 percent of U.S. exports and more than a quarter of Canadian exports, which are exchanged annually between the two countries, will suffer "if we can't manage that border relatively openly," he said.

Mr. Manley visited Washington ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who is to meet President Bush at the White House on Monday.

He said his nation is already helping the United States with intelligence and other information-sharing.

He said, however, that several Canadian agencies have found "no indication" that some of the hijackers who slammed two airliners into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 may have entered the United States through Canada, as some U.S. authorities have suggested.

Mr. Manley also denied reports yesterday that his nation was unhappy for not being mentioned in Mr. Bush's speech to Congress on Thursday night.

"There has been a lot of acknowledgement from the president and the secretary of state, so we didn't need to be mentioned," he said. "Clearly, what the president was seeking to achieve was to stress the breadth of the coalition building around the world."

Wire reports, quoting senior Canadian officials, suggested that Mr. Bush's omission of America's neighbor and close ally was a result of Mr. Chretien's "tepid response" to the terrorist attacks.

Mr. Manley said any "doubts" about Canada's commitment to Washington's anti-terrorist effort and possible military action arise "because we always have to say this is a Canadian decision and our Parliament would need to be consulted."

He said: "No one should be under any illusions of Canada's support for this effort all the way, and I expect any requests that are made will be capable of fulfilling."

Mr. Powell said the U.S.-Canada relationship can "never be weakened."

He said the United States has not yet requested military assistance from Canada, but he noted that Canadian military forces serve side-by-side with American forces in several parts of the world.

Although Mr. Chretien's government is committed to preserving its citizens' civil liberties, it will review its immigration policies in the light of the terrorist strikes, Mr. Manley said.

"Every year, we have quite a large number of refugee claimants more than half enter through the United States but our courts have rules that, once they have made a claim in Canada, they are entitled to the full protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said. "All these things need to be reviewed."

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