WASHINGTON – President Bush is meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to discuss a border action plan meant to increase security while speeding the flow of commerce at key crossings.
The two leaders were getting together in Detroit on Monday to discuss progress on the ``Smart Border'' plan they endorsed in December. It is a series of measures meant to screen out terrorists while protecting the world's largest trade partnership, in which $1 billion a day in goods and services flows.
They were to see demonstrations on how people and goods move, then give joint remarks. The 30-point plan calls for new technology to clear goods in factories, rail yards and sea ports instead of waiting until they reach the border crossing.
Noting that 70 percent of border traffic between the countries uses six major crossings, the plan advocates improving infrastructure and finding new technology to relieve congestion.
Iraq also loomed large on the agenda in Bush's sixth trip to Michigan, a state with a large trove of electoral votes that Bush lost in 2000. Discussion of Iraq could be sensitive in Michigan, a state that is home to 350,000 Arab-Americans.
In a private meeting, the president was expected to air his concerns about Saddam Hussein and the need for a change in leadership to Chretien, who has expressed doubts about the need for military action.
Chretien said Thursday he has yet to see evidence that would justify Canadian support for a military campaign against Iraq, but said he was ready to hear Bush's reasons for wanting to topple Saddam.
``I will see what he has to say, I will listen and we will decide,'' Chretien said.
Canada has supplied special forces troops, other soldiers, ships and planes as logistical support in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.