LIMA (AFP) — US President George W. Bush jokingly told Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday that he was going into "forced retirement" when Barack Obama takes over the White House in two months.
"Laureen and I certainly wish Laura and you all the best if I don't see you again before the 20th of January," Harper said, to which Bush quipped: "Before forced retirement."
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, all-but-certain to be Bush's last major international summit before he steps down.
Flanked by aides in a large conference room at a posh hotel in Lima, Bush praised Harper as "a good friend and a strong leader" and declared: "It's been a joy to work with you. And we've accomplished a lot together."
"Relations between the United States and Canada are strong -- sometimes complicated, but nevertheless based on common values. I appreciate your candor, your strength of character and your consistent philosophy," he said.
"I think it's very important for us to continue to work together during the time of economic turmoil," said the US president.
"I've appreciated the candor of our relationship, I've appreciated your openness. We've had many things we've agreed on and a few we haven't, but you've always been willing to listen," said Harper.
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