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Border Issues Loom over North American Summit

Although economic cooperation and the war on terror topped the agenda of President Bush's two-day summit with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, debate over the direction of the U.S. border security policy continues to play a large role in the discussions.

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    President Bush interrupted his August vacation in Crawford, Texas, to join the leaders of Mexico and Canada at a regional summit, held this year at Montebello, a log cabin resort in Canada's Quebec province. Resort staff lined up to greet the president. But just outside the hotel's confines, demonstrators faced off with riot police and held signs protesting the summit and Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan.

    It's the third such meeting between the three nations that make up the world's largest trading bloc. These summits were originally designed to help figure out ways to tighten border security without affecting tourism and trade. But as President Bush said last year in Cancun, Mexico, the agenda has become more ambitious.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We've got big goals for this very important relationship. One goal is prosperity. You can't achieve a standard-of-living increase for your people unless you have a prosperous neighborhood.

    We face prosperity challenges from abroad like never before, the challenge of a growing Chinese economy or the challenge of an Indian economy. And my attitude is, we shouldn't fear these challenges; we ought to welcome them and position ourselves so that we can compete.


    Some of the issues that dominated last year's conference, such as trade and border security, still top this year's. But others are growing, such as Canada's role in the Afghan war as part of the NATO forces. It's becoming more controversial in Canada and is expected to top discussions between President Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Some 2,500 Canadian troops are deployed in Afghanistan, and 23 Canadians have been killed so far this year.

    Tougher U.S. passport restrictions have caused friction with both Canada and Mexico. In 2008, anyone entering the United States by land from either north or south will have to show a passport.

    President Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are also expected to focus on immigration laws. President Bush's immigration proposals stalled in Congress in June. Since then, he's issued executive orders to tighten border security and streamline guest-worker programs.

    There may also be discussion of U.S. proposals to help Calderon's government fight an increasingly bloody war against drug traffickers. He's deployed the Mexican army in the fight, and 1,400 people have been killed in drug-related violence so far this year. The leaders will wrap up the summit tomorrow.

    For more on all of this, we get two views. Kim Campbell was Canada's prime minister in 1993, and Jorge Castaneda was foreign minister of Mexico from 2000 to 2003.

    Prime Minister Campbell, let me start with you. For Canadians, what's the number-one issue in the relationship with the United States? What did Prime Minister Harper have to talk with George Bush about today?

  • KIM CAMPBELL, Former Canadian Prime Minister:

    Well, I think making sure that the economy across the border continues to flow. You know, Canada and the United States have the world's largest bilateral trading relationship. It's a billion dollars a day.

    And then any kind of issues, whether it's a concern about security or concern about standards, any of these things, stops traffic at the border, stops the flow of goods and services and people. It's a disaster. It's hugely costly on both sides of the border, and that's really a number-one priority in all of this.

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