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Adviser says U.S. close to Mexico-only NAFTA deal, Canada unmoved

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The United States is getting “very, very close” to having to move forward on its trade deal with Mexico without Canada, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Friday.

There is just over a week to go before a U.S.-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to publish the text of a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the United States and Canada have still not agreed on terms, Hassett told Fox News Channel.

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“We’re still talking to Canada, and we’re getting very, very close to the deadline where we’re going to have to move ahead with Mexico all by themselves,” said Hassett, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Washington reached a bilateral trade deal with Mexico in late August and is threatening to exclude Canada if need be.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland left Washington on Thursday after two days of inconclusive talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Asked for a reaction to Hassett’s comments, a Freeland spokesman pointed to her repeated comments that Canada “will not be driven by a deadline but by reaching a good deal”.

Investor concerns over the future of the 1994 pact, which underscores $1.2 trillion in annual trade, have regularly hurt stock markets in all three countries, whose economies are highly integrated.

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A senior White House official on Friday said he hoped Canada would agree to join the U.S.-Mexico trade deal by the end of the month, adding he thought U.S. lawmakers would support a bilateral deal with Mexico if that did not happen.

But Canada says it does not believe U.S. President Trump has the power to unilaterally turn NAFTA into a two-nation agreement. U.S. business groups and some senior Democrats say NAFTA must be preserved as a trilateral grouping.

Access to Canada’s dairy market, trade dispute settlement panels and U.S. demands for the ability to impose auto tariffs on its northern neighbor remain sticking points.

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“I’m a little surprised that the Canadians haven’t signed up yet,” Hassett said.

“I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense because there’s a very good deal that was designed by Mexico and the U.S. to appeal to Canada. And they’re not signing up and it’s got everybody over here a little bit puzzled.”

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Freeland and Lighthizer are due in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, but it was unclear if they would meet.

Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, writing by David Lawder; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and Susan Thomas


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Mass rally marks six-month anniversary of Hong Kong protest movement

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Hong Kong democracy protesters are hoping for huge crowds later Sunday at a rally they have billed as a "last chance" for the city's pro-Beijing leaders in a major test for the six-month-old movement.

The march comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a "silent majority" opposed the protests.

But activists say public anger is building once more after chief executive Carrie Lam and Beijing ruled out any further concessions despite the landslide election defeat.

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Pensacola gunman showed mass shooting videos at party: report

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The Saudi military student who carried out a deadly shooting spree at a US naval base showed videos of mass shootings at a dinner party the night before the attack, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The shooting Friday in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida left three dead and eight wounded, including two responding sheriff's deputies.

The revelation about the dinner party came as authorities probed whether the shooter had any accomplices.

"We're finding out what took place, whether it's one person or a number of people," President Donald Trump told reporters. "We'll get to the bottom of it very quickly.

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Sesame Street still going strong after 50 years

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Generations of children around the world have grown up learning their ABCs and 123s from the lovable muppets on "Sesame Street," and as the pioneering television program turns 50, it's as popular as ever.

It's also about to earn one of America's top cultural awards, to go along with a pile of nearly 200 Emmys -- at a gala in Washington on Sunday, it will be the first TV show to earn the Kennedy Center Honors.

Since its debut in November 1969 on American public television, the famous address has taken on many forms, in more than 150 countries.

In Afghanistan, it's "Baghch-e-Simsim." In Latin America, it's "Plaza Sesamo." And in Arabic-speaking countries, it's "Iftah Ya Simsim."

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