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The Globe and Mail

North American leaders to hold summit after Asia-Pacific meeting

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a joint news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, February 4, 2011.

JIM YOUNG/REUTERS

North American leaders will gather to discuss continental issues next month — their first such meeting in two years.

U.S. President Barack Obama will host Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Nov. 13.

The three leaders and other heads of Asia-Pacific nations already plan to gather early that week in Hawaii.

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The White House said Friday the North American summit would build on co-operation between the three countries with a focus on competitiveness, the economy, security, energy and climate change.

Canada and the United States are on the verge of unfurling a recently completed deal on border and security issues — leading to speculation the announcement may come in Hawaii.

The "action plan" will outline initiatives for more early inspection of cargo, common identification of security threats, alignment of the food and auto industries, and easier passage across the border for frequent travellers, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been publicly announced.

Opposition MPs have chastised the federal government for pursuing the border deal even as the U.S. pursues policies damaging to Canada — including new "Buy America" provisions and a possible port tax.

The pressure on Ottawa increased this week with word the U.S. had proceeded with a $5.50 visitors fee for Canadians arriving by air or sea.

The last North American Leaders' Summit was hosted by Mexico in August 2009.

Since then, Mexican violence fuelled by warring drug cartels has worsened, sparking concern in Canada and the United States.

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A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable from July 2009, published by the WikiLeaks website earlier this year, indicated that Canada was concerned that negotiations between the three countries "comes at the expense of its bilateral relationship with the United States."

However, it added that Canada "does value the trilateral summit process."

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