UPDATE 3-Canadian PM agrees to pay more heed to native demands

Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:23pm EST
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* Harper meets about 20 chiefs; some native leaders boycott

* Agrees to high-level dialogue

* Ontario chief threatens blockades on Wednesday

* Nova Scotia rail line blockaded

By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed in a meeting with native leaders on Friday to pay more attention to their demands, trying to mollify an aboriginal protest movement that has threatened to blockade roads and railways across the country.

Faced with a seemingly intractable situation that has confronted successive governments, H arper agreed to a high-level dialogue with the natives and to have his office t a ke increased responsibility for their issues, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said.

"Working together remains the best way to achieve our shared objective of healthier, more prosperous and self-sufficient First Nations," he told a news conference, using the formal name for most of Canada's aboriginal groups.

Hundreds of aboriginal protesters had blocked the main entrance to a downtown building where Harper was preparing to meet about 20 native leaders on Friday, demonstrating their frustration, but also highlighting a deep divide within the country's First Nations on how to push Ottawa to heed their demands.   Continued...