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Photo-op chatter

Harper and Clinton's jock-talk diplomacy Add to ...

Here is a rare look into the secretive world of political photo-ops and what world leaders discuss as the cameras click:

"Yeah, my mother was the pitcher on her high school softball team," Stephen Harper told Hillary Clinton today.

This jock talk between the Prime Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State came as they sat together - in front of their respective flags - in advance of their "tête-à-tête" meeting in Aylmer today.

The two spoke for about 20 minutes in their private meeting. There, officials said, they dealt with issues around Afghanistan and Iran. As well, Mr. Harper told Mrs. Clinton that Canada will not extend its military mission past its 2011 deadline.

There is no transcript of that; PMO officials, however, transcribed the photo-op:

"My mother played a bit of (inaudible)," Mr. Harper said. (The PMO says the PM was speaking about softball).

"Did she?" Mrs. Clinton said. "I really enjoyed it. And you know, and then you know, you get older. I used to like to ski and that, but I don't really do that much anymore. What about you?"

Mr. Harper admitted that he is just a fan. "I've never claimed to be an athlete," he said.

Neither, it seems, has Mrs. Clinton. "That would not be in the cards for me," she said.

Here is the rest of their conversation:

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: I don't know, I lose track of time. I don't think it was very long ago in…in Montreal at the Haiti conference (when they last saw each other). And of course I'm looking forward to seeing you and President Obama at the nuclear summit in April. So wonderful to have you here again, and I hope all your meetings here are very productive as we approach the G8 and G20.

HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I thank you, Prime Minister, once again for the hospitality and leadership. Canada has been such a close friend and ally, and your work on behalf of Haiti, and as we were just talking before the press came in, the UN conference in New York tomorrow, and Canada has been one of the leaders in driving that process, hosting the G8 and the G20 later in the year, and we look forward to welcoming you to Washington for the nuclear security summit.

UNIDENTIFIED: Thanks everybody. (A handler tries to move out the cameras but the two keep on talking.)

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Thanks for your time (inaudible).

HILLARY CLINTON: I did. I said kind words about the Olympics, but for the hockey games. Other than that, I've been very complimentary.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Don't worry, we're not going to make you wear the jersey for that. (Inaudible).



UNIDENTIFIED: Thanks everyone.

(Photo: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

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