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Obama's trip to Canada will highlight differences on Afghanistan

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Administration officials are setting the stage for Barack Obama’s trip on Thursday to Canada -- his first travel outside the United States as President.

But the timing of the visit highlights policy differences between the two countries over the war in Afghanistan.

Policy differences and warm atmospherics

The Obama administration stressed the warm atmospherics surrounding the day long journey. President Obama is “very eager to make the trip" to Ottawa, according to Denis McDonough, Director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council. Speaking on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, McDonough said the president was “touched and honored” to be invited to make the trip.

But Tuesday afternoon, after the conference call, the White House announced that Obama had approved a request from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to send additional US troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer. "The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action," the President said in a statement. "The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border."

Sending 17,000 more troops

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