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Harper in Washington to meet with Barack Obama at White House

Stephen Harper visits President Barack Obama at the White House today, a marquee moment for an embattled prime minister who could soon face a federal election.

WASHINGTON - Stephen Harper visits President Barack Obama at the White House today, a marquee moment for an embattled prime minister who could soon face a federal election.

Harper will sit down in the most storied office in the world to spend an hour chatting with Obama, whose popularity remains sky high in Canada.

The Oval Office powwow is expected to focus primarily on the economy, with the G20 summit in Pittsburgh looming next week.

Trade issues, energy, national security and Afghanistan are also likely to be on the agenda.

Harper says he supports Obama's policy of sending more troops to Afghanistan, where Canadian forces have been fighting for eight years.

The prime minister's words of encouragement on the eve of the White House visit come as Congress begins to question the wisdom of bolstering the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Obama is weighing whether to send even more troops to the country, something top military officials are clamouring for as others warn the conflict could become the president's Vietnam.

Harper also arrives the day after a Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll suggested that more Canadians than Americans believed the 9-11 terrorists entered the U.S. eight years ago via Canada.

One expert in Canada-U.S. relations says Obama has no outstanding issues right now and the visit is something of a presidential gift to Harper.

Chris Sands says Obama is keen to establish good relations with America's allies and the visit will send a message to Canadians that Harper is managing the U.S. file well.

In addition to meeting with Obama, Harper makes the trek to Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss his concern about trade protectionism with the most powerful Congressional Democrats.

 
 
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