UPDATE: Canada and US continue NAFTA talks
Canada's top trade negotiator, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, is expressing confidence that Canada can reach a deal with the United States on a revamped North American trade agreement that could please all sides.
``We know a win-win-win agreement is within reach,'' Freeland tells reporters after talks with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer broke up Friday. They are set to resume Wednesday.
The talks were overshadowed by reports that President Donald Trump had boasted in an interview with Bloomberg News that he wouldn't offer Canada any compromise. Freeland brushed off the controversy.
``My negotiating counterparty is Ambassador Lighthizer,'' she says. ``He has brought good faith and good will to the table.''
Trump, in a conversation Thursday with Bloomberg News, gave a dismissive off-the-record assessment of the Canadian position on major NAFTA sticking points that was leaked to the Toronto Star newspaper and published Friday morning.
"If I say no _ the answer's no. If I say no, then you're going to put that, and it's going to be so insulting they're not going to be able to make a deal ... I can't kill these people," Trump said of the Canadian government, according to the Star report, which cited an anonymous source.
Any deal with Canada would be "totally on our terms," Trump was quoted by the Star as saying. The newspaper said Bloomberg has not disputed the authenticity of the comments.
Freeland emerged from the morning's talks just minutes after news of Trump's remarks rippled through the media corps gathered outside the offices of the U.S. trade representative, where the negotiations have been taking place all week.
Despite repeated questions about whether the comments risked scuttling the talks, a stoic Freeland maintained her diplomatic countenance, saying only that both the Canadian negotiating team and USTR officials were working hard to reach an agreement.