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German chancellor begins first visit to Canada

08-16-2012 16:25 BJT

OTTAWA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Ottawa late Wednesday to begin her first visit to Canada since elected, to talk with her Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper about the global economy, eurozone debt crisis, free trade pact and security issues in Syria and Iran.

The whirlwind 24-hour visit is Merkel's first trip to Canada since she became German Chancellor in 2005,

In the visit, economic challenges are the focal point of talks between the two leaders, who both favor austerity over public spending to ensure a global recovery.

To boost Canadian economy, Harper is eager to have Canada finish the ongoing free trade negotiations with the European Union (EU), which he said Monday in Toronto was "moving forward in a very positive way," and hopefully will knot an agreement by this year's end.

But German officials and trade experts said single countries like Germany are no longer playing a decisive role in the talks, and responsibility lies with the EU negotiators.

Meanwhile, observers said Merkel isn't expected to endorse the trade pact, as Canada is reluctant to contribute to a nearly 450-billion-U.S. dollar package fund run by the International Monetary Funds to bail out the eurozone.

Just hours before Merkel's arrival in Ottawa, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Europe need to "take control of the situation" and invest "more than adequate resources" in dealing with their debt crisis.

Merkel and Harper will hold a formal meeting in Ottawa Thursday morning, when they will discuss problems including the Syrian situation, Iran's nuclear program, and Europe's concerns over the environmental consequences of Canadian's growing oil development in Alberta.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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