Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Washington gives Ottawa assurances on deportation

AP , OTTAWA

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said on Monday that Canada is satisfied with assurances from Washington that the US will not unilaterally send Canadian citizens to third world countries where they could be tortured.

His comments come after Ottawa launched a formal protest over the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian who was sent to his native Syria by the US after he was wrongly accused of being a terrorist.

A letter received last week from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice contained no apology to Arar, Foreign Affairs officials say.

They say the letter, which has not been released publicly, indicates the US is committed to informing and consulting Ottawa about any Canadian citizen who may be involuntarily sent to a third country.

MacKay said his "most direct and compelling concern is that this never happens again."

To that end, he says the US response is good enough for the moment.

"They've come clean with their commitment not to let this happen again," MacKay said.

At least two court cases over Arar's treatment are in legal limbo, limiting the response of both the US and Canadian governments, MacKay said.

"I don't want to jeopardize or compromize the legal standing of Mr. Arar or any other government," he said.

"To that extent the issues of apology will be dealt with in the future," he added.

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