The Prime Minister, speaking to reporters on his last official day in office before Paul Martin takes over, said Mr. Bush had telephoned him in the morning to congratulate him on his 40 years in office and that was when Mr. Bush made the promise.Good news for Martin, as he doesn't have to deal with angry party members and citizens. Bad for France and Germany, as they've lost an ally, and this has turned into an American vs. European thing.
"I had a discussion with Mr. Bush who called me at 7:40 [a.m. EST] to wish me good luck, and we discussed the relations between the two countries.
"He thanked me for what we're doing in Afghanistan and the offer of money for the reconstruction of Iraq [Canada has put forward $300-million], and he told me that the mention of Canada in some press that we were to be excluded from economic activities in Iraq was not appropriate, and he was telling me basically not to worry," Mr. Chrétien said.
(Assuming, of course, that Bush was telling the truth and maintains this position when the heat's off.)
With Canada out, the one to watch might well be Russia, if only because they've got so much debt to hold over the Iraqis' (and thus the Americans') heads. Putin must still be annoyed, and with good cause. Russia really isn't that far from Iraq, after all.