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Canada’s ex-PM Chretien urges Trudeau to reopen embassy in Tehran

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Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien advised Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau to remember the country’s place in the world when dealing with international partners and called on him to normalize ties with Iran and pave the way for reopening of the country’s embassy in Tehran.

Chretien also said Trudeau must talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, CTV News reported.

Chretien, who was a member of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s cabinet, told CTV’s Question Period that the younger Trudeau should take after his father’s approach to dealing with world leaders.

“Mr. (Pierre Elliott) Trudeau could talk to anybody because he kept his independence … The Americans did not like the fact that he was friendly with Fidel Castro,” said Chretien. “Talk to everybody and try to offer a solution.”

The former Liberal prime minister said that advice also applies to world leaders such as Putin. Relations between Canada and Russia damaged following crisis in Ukraine.

For instance, at the G20 Summit in Australia last November, Harper directly told Putin to “get out of Ukraine.

“You think that Putin did not sleep at all that night?” Chretien joked.

More generally speaking, Chretien advised Trudeau to remember Canada’s place in the world when dealing with international partners.

“Canada is a big country but we are not the biggest.”

And when it comes to Canada’s closest ally, the United States, Chretien said a good relationship is pretty easy to maintain, as long as there’s an understanding of the president’s political limitations.

“The difficult thing with the president of the United States is he cannot deliver as a prime minister can deliver, because he has always to go to the Congress and to the Senate,” said Chretien.

But Chretien also said the prime minister must stand by Canadian values if the US comes knocking. He pointed to the country’s tradition of joining military missions led by the United Nations or NATO, rather than a single country, such as the US-led mission against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

“That was the policy that existed under (Pierre Elliot) Trudeau when we had the first war in Iraq … And it was my policy, too, and that’s why I said no to the war in Iraq to George W. Bush.”

Trudeau confirmed to US President Barack Obama last week that Canada will pull its fighter jets out of the war against ISIL. Rather, he has pledged to bolster the Canadian forces’ training of Iraqi forces.

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