Obama to visit Canada first

Ottawa bureau

Barack Obama will make Canada his first official foreign visit soon after he becomes U.S. President, Canadian officials say.

The high-profile visit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed today, sends an important signal about the state of Canada-U.S. relations.

“We have been in close contact with President-elect Obama’s transition team,” Harper spokesperson Dimitri Soudas said today.

“We can confirm that the President-elect has accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to visit Canada soon after he is inaugurated,” he said in an email.

It will be Obama’s first foreign visit as president. Details such as dates or destinations were not announced.

“This is delightful. Canadians should be quite pleased because it reflects the true value of the relationship. And it is a feather in President-elect Obama’s cap for recognizing the strategic importance of Canada to the United States,” said Paul Frazer, a former Canadian diplomat who is now a Washington consultant.

A transition official with Obama says aides to the president-elect and Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed the trip in recent days.

But the official says Obama and Harper themselves have not directly discussed the trip.

– With files from the Star’s Washington Bureau Chief Mitch Potter and the Associated Press


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