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Canada PM welcomes those fleeing war, terror

OTTAWA / TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed those fleeing war and persecution on Saturday even as Canadian airlines said they would turn back US-bound passengers to comply with an immigration ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

In pointed tweets a day after US President Donald Trump put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travellers from the seven countries, Trudeau said refugees were welcome in Canada, reports Reuters.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

A second tweet, also timed to coincide with outrage over Trump’s immigration policy, included a 2015 photo of Trudeau welcoming a Syrian refugee at a Canadian airport. Confusion abounded at airports around the world on Saturday as officials tried to interpret the new US rules.

Trudeau has walked a fine line with the Trump administration, avoiding direct criticism while promoting the progressive policies of his one-year-old Liberal government.

Trudeau’s press secretary, Cameron Ahmad, said the prime minister is looking forward to discussing Canada’s immigration and refugee policies with Trump. But he wouldn’t say when that will be and referred questions about those affected by the ban to Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

“We are in contact with the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Department of Transportation, and other partners to get more information on the impacts,” Garneau’s press secretary Delphine Denis wrote in an email.

“We will be providing further information to Canadians as available.” It was unclear whether Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen – a Somali-Canadian refugee – would be able to travel to the United States under the new rules. Hussen’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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