Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Harper to attend weekend summit

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OTTAWA (CNS) — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top priority at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas is to push free trade, despite widespread opposition to such pacts in many left-leaning countries of Latin America.

Harper has no plans to play peacemaker between U.S. President Barack Obama and other countries over the contentiou­s issue of Cuba, with Harper’s spokespers­on saying the question of the decades-long U.S. embargo is not one for Canada.

Harper arrives in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday for the three-day, 34-country summit, as critics at home say he’s giving short shrift to human rights at the expense of trade.

“Our focus for the Summit of the Americas will be about free trade and avoiding other countries moving back to protection­ist measures,” Harper’s spokespers­on, Dimitri Soudas, said Wednesday.

“Canada’s position is we must not allow the impact of the (current economic) crisis to reverse the hardfought progress to freer trade and investment.”

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