G-8 security officials are urging Kananaskis outfitters and guides to be the first line of defence against terrorists, by reporting suspicious clients eager to snoop around the summit site.
VANCOUVER - The United States expects Canada to stand squarely behind it when George W. Bush, the U.S. President, decides what action to take against Iraq, a senior White House official said yesterday.
Marc Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and a senior aide to Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, said world leaders, including Jean Chrétien, are debating America's policy on Iraq -- but that does not signal a weakening of the coalition fighting terrorism.
He said that when Canada and other countries take a hard look at the evidence against Iraq, they will support direct action by the United States.
"If there's evidence, if the Canadian government and people are convinced by that evidence, I think then Canada and the United States would stand quite squarely together," Mr. Grossman said.
And he made it clear that as far as the United States is concerned, the evidence is already in.
"We say ... look at the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Look at Iraq's history. Look at the fact that there have not been weapons inspectors there for many, many, many months.... And this is a country that when, the last time that weapons inspectors were there, what did they turn up? A nuclear weapons program, a biological weapons program, a radiological weapons program. So I don't think there's a disagreement here."
Mr. Grossman was commenting a day after Mr. Chrétien joined Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, in a Moscow news conference where they urged President Bush not to take unilateral military action against Iraq.
At the same time, in Washington, Bill Graham, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Canada is open to including Iraq in the war on terrorism, "if it is shown that they are amassing weapons of mass destruction."
However, yesterday Mr. Graham appeared to soften Canada's commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States, saying Canada is not considering expanding its role in Afghanistan unless demanded by the UN Security Council. Canada has 750 troops in Kandahar, under the U.S.-led military campaign against remnants of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
Mr. Grossman said the President has not yet received a recommendation from his senior advisors on what to do about Iraq, but he made it clear the White House is not backing down from the hard line Mr. Bush recently signalled, calling Iraq part of an axis of evil.
"I think that the idea somehow that there are people who will deny that there's a nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction is a serious misjudgment about what is going on in the world today.... You can't keep your head in the sand here on this connection between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. I think that's the point."
Mr. Grossman said he was not referring directly to the remarks made by Mr. Chrétien in Moscow.
"I'm not going to comment, obviously, on what the Canadian Prime Minister has to say, that's his business," he said.
Mr. Grossman, in Vancouver for planning meetings for the G8 summit in Kananaskis, Alta., this June, was asked if the United States would use that conference to try to shore up the coalition.
"I don't know if we're looking for a new coalition. We're very satisfied with the coalition that we have. We have a coalition in this world now that is a coalition against terrorism. And I think this coalition has been spectacularly successful since the 11th of September. I don't feel the need for a new coalition; I don't feel a need for a coalition to be changed," he said.
White House officials were somewhat taken aback by the reaction of world leaders to Mr. Bush's tough talk about Iraq, and particularly about criticism of his use of the term "axis of evil" in a State of the Union address. But Mr. Grossman said the President feels the rhetoric was justified and that it has had a positive influence overall.
"We need to do more and speak out more directly and talk about this axis of evil," he said. "I also believe that if nothing else, we have raised the consciousness of people about Iraq."
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