President Bush, embarking on his first postwar diplomatic journey, is opening talks with the leaders of Canada, France and Britain on prospects for a more peaceful and secure Middle East.

Bush flew to Ottawa Wednesday to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Aside from discussing the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war, they also will sign an accord to curb acid rain and express a commitment to cooperate in reducing other air pollutants.On Thursday, Bush will leave behind the freezing temperatures of Canada and jet to the balmy island of Martinique in the West Indies to see French President Francois Mitterrand. From there, he will go to Bermuda for talks Saturday with British Prime Minister John Major.

"I think these are very important meetings, as these leaders take a look at the postwar situation," White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said Tuesday.

Canada, France and Britain were steadfast members of the U.S.-led coalition of nations in the war against Iraq.

Fitzwater said all of the talks will deal with arms proliferation, security in the Middle East, economic development and the Middle East peace process.

Canadian officials said Mulroney would push the idea of a permanent arms embargo to restrict the spread of weapons worldwide. Fitzwater said Bush shares Mulroney's objective for a more stable Middle East but does not plan to halt all arms shipments to the region.