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Canada confident Obama will approve Keystone XL pipeline

Canada is confident US President Barack Obama will approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that he previously rejected, a government minister said Wednesday.

Obama, who was re-elected on Tuesday, denied approval for part of the $7 billion pipeline earlier this year while the US State Department asked for a new route to avoid environmentally sensitive areas as it carries oil from Canada's tar sands to US refineries on the Gulf coast.

A southern leg of TransCanada Corporation's pipeline was later approved but the northern portion still needs State Department approval because it crosses the border.

TransCanada submitted a new route for the northern part of the pipeline in September, and has said it expected a decision in early 2013.

"We believe that the Keystone XL will be approved by the Americans because it is clearly in the US national interest in terms of national security, jobs and economic growth," Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told reporters on Wednesday.

"We'll continue of course to advocate for approval of the pipeline," he said, pointing out that "right now we're not in the middle of an election campaign, and (so) it will be decided by the (Obama) administration on its merits."

Canada is the largest energy exporter to the United States.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring 830,000 barrels of oil per day to the Gulf coast, easing US reliance on less stable sources.

Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Tuesday's presidential election. Romney had pledged during the campaign to approve the pipeline "on day one" of his presidency, if elected.

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