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Harper, Obama talk hockey in Mexico 0

Jessica Hume. (Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY)

By Jessica Hume, National Bureau

U.S. President Barack Obama joins Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) before a trilateral meeting in the Courtyard of the Palacio de Justicio at the North American Leaders Summit  in Toluca February 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama joins Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) before a trilateral meeting in the Courtyard of the Palacio de Justicio at the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

TOLUCA, Mexico - Among the important topics of discussion at the Three Amigos North American Leaders' Summit was hockey - a somewhat popular sport in America and Canada's national religion.

Speaking to a crowd of business leaders and academics, U.S. President Barack Obama joked that his brother-in-law is Canadian, so "you know I have to like Canadians."

Obama went on to explain that the Canadian and American men's and women's hockey teams will be battling it out over the next few days so "for a brief period I may not have as warm feelings" about Canadians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper - who last year published a book about hockey - expressed a less qualified affection for his countrymen.

"I'll like them no matter who wins the hockey game," he said.

The sport also came up during a meeting earlier in the day between to two leaders.

According to the Prime Minister's Office, "the leaders agreed they will both be watching tomorrow's Olympic women's hockey game and Friday's Olympic men's hockey game between Canada and the U.S.A. with great interest and excitement."

"They agreed to disagree on who to root for," Harper's spokesman Jason MacDonald wrote in an e-mail.

The comments came only hours after the Canadian men's hockey team eked out a victory over Latvia - a game most Canadians expected they would win handily.

The Canadian men's hockey team won the gold during the last winter Olympics and is expected - by Canadians - to win the gold again this year.

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