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Clinton, Chretien Resume Golfing

December 2, 2000 GMT

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ President Clinton and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien resumed their golfing partnership Saturday, less than a week after Chretien enjoyed the biggest victory of a long political career.

The contrast between Chretien’s solid victory Monday _ his Liberal Party won a third straight majority in a national election _ and the still-unresolved U.S. presidential race provided an obvious conversation topic as the two leaders teed off on a clear, cool day.

Setting off on the first tee at the Army-Navy Golf Club across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, Clinton was asked to react to Canada’s election.

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``They weren’t close enough to have to worry about it, that’s what I think,″ Clinton said, who stretched for about a minute before beginning his round.

Chretien told reporters he was enjoying the fresh air after a month and a half of campaigning. He said he has enjoyed his many rounds of golf with Clinton but considers their scores ``a state secret.″

But when asked to compare his relatively east victory with the deadlocked American election he replied, ``I cannot talk about it _ it’s none of my business.″

Their golf games date to at least 1995, when Clinton found time during a summit of the world’s leading industrialized nations to squeeze in a golf game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before returning home.

The next year, Clinton and Chretien teamed up for a round at Congressional Country Club in suburban Maryland, where their round took nearly six hours.

In 1997, in weather so foul the mountains surrounding Vancouver, British Columbia, were completely obscured, Clinton, Chretien and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chock Tong spent several hours on a golf course. The leaders were attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Last year, during a one-day visit to Canada, Clinton and Chretien went to a new ski resort in Quebec’s Mont Treblant area, about 90 miles north of Montreal, for a conference on federalism _ and an afternoon of golf.

And in April, the two played golf, also in suburban Virginia.

This time, Chretien stopped in Washington en route to Durham, N.C., where he was to give a lecture at Duke University on Sunday.

Monday’s election was a crowning triumph for Chretien as he became one of only three liberal leaders in Canadian history to guide the party to three consecutive majority victories.

The triumph means Chretien, 66, will be the longest-serving leader of the world’s industrial powers when Clinton steps down in January.