Canada

Liberal leader tells Obama Canada concerned about Khadr

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Thursday he raised the case of Canadian Omar Khadr in his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at Ottawa International Airport.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Thursday he raised the case of Canadian Omar Khadr in his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at Ottawa International Airport.

Ignatieff told CBC News that Obama was "glad to know" Canadian parties were concerned about Khadr, the only Westerner remaining in detention at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama said his administration is reviewing all the cases of the individuals who are still being held at Guantanamo.

They're "…trying to figure out basically who the bad guys are," Ignatieff said.

The leader of the official Opposition said Obama told him that the detainees are being classified at different levels. But he did not indicate in which category Khadr was being placed.

Toronto-born Khadr was badly wounded when he was captured after a fierce firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002 when he was 15. He has been at Guantanamo Bay for more than six years charged with war crimes.

The president indicated he "was glad to know that the Canadian party is concerned about Mr. Khadr," Ignatieff said.

Ignatieff said he told Obama if the Liberals form a government in the future that "we would be helpful to the Americans in respect of this and other matters relating to getting us beyond the Guantanamo Bay world."

'Thoughtful' meeting

The Liberal party leader was scheduled to have a 20-minute meeting with the president of the United States but got 15 minutes extra.

Ignatieff described the meeting to CBC as "thoughtful."

"We talked about putting partisanship aside in a serious economic crisis," he said. "We talked about his experience of trying to get that stimulus package through and I talked about the difficulties we've had working with the Harper government."

Ignatieff said he also raised Canadian concerns about the "Buy American" clause in the American stimulus package and Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

'Adrift strategically' in Afghanistan: Ignatieff

With Afghanistan becoming a focal point of Obama's foreign policy, there have been questions as to whether the U.S. will ask Canada for a longer combat commitment past the 2011 deadline.

Obama had said earlier in the day that he did not press Harper on any additional commitment after the end of the current 2011 mission.

Ignatieff said he told the president he felt Canada is "adrift strategically" in Afghanistan. The president "laughed and said 'we feel the same way in the White House.'"

"I made it clear that Canada knows a lot about Afghanistan and we've paid the ultimate price for what we know and so we want to be involved in the strategic review so that we can contribute to giving this mission some coherence," he said.

Ignatieff added he didn't feel the clean energy dialogue that had just been announced by Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a news conference on Parliament Hill was at the top of mind for Obama. The dialogue is expected to include development of clean energy science and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

"Anything that gets the United States and Canada talking about their responsible energy partnerships that are better for the environment is a good thing," Ignatieff said. "But I don't feel that anything ... substantive was agreed to today. It didn't seem to be top of mind to the president."

Obama was in Ottawa on Thursday for his first foreign visit since becoming president.

During his meetings with Harper earlier in the day, the two leaders outlined three main priorities of the bilateral relationship: working together to restore economic growth, a new initiative on environmental protection and a commitment to stabilize Afghanistan.

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