Monday, 24 September, 2018


Canada To Lead NATO Training Mission In Iraq

Patty Hajdu Liberal MP Patty Hajdu speaks at the Moose Hall in Thunder Bay on Thursday Dec. 21 2017
Bennie Garza | 14 July, 2018, 07:52

But the report comes at a sensitive time for Trudeau, given Trump's persistent calls on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to increase their defence spending to two per cent of GDP - as members first agreed back in 2014.

That will serve as the backdrop for the news that Canada is renewing the mission, the current three-year mandate for which is now run out on March 31, 2019, sources told The Canadian Press, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details not yet made public.

But while he acknowledged the tensions between Canada and the USA playing out in a trade dispute triggered by American tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Trudeau said the US remains a close friend and trading partner regardless of who is prime minister or president.

Trudeau will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff. But Trudeau appeared to be far from Trump's orbit during the traditional gathering of leaders for the NATO family photo op and ceremony, standing quietly to the side as Trump chatted with Britain's Theresa May, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

"The Trump-Putin summit could potentially aggravate US allies who want to isolate Putin", said Jayson Derow, a research analyst at the NATO Association of Canada.

Among the achievements of Wednesday's session are the approval of a new mission in Iraq to help train troops, as well to provide more support to countries such as Jordan and Tunisia, where Spain has offered to lead the training mission.

But critics have noted that even with the increase, Canadian defence spending will top out at 1.4 per cent of GDP, and it's unclear to what degree extending an existing mission will satisfy Trump's demands for Canada and others to put up more cash.

Asked directly whether Canada plans to meet the two per cent target, Trudeau said simply that there are no plans to double Canada's defence budget, which now stands at around $20 billion a year.

"We certainly hope that Russian Federation will choose to become a more positive actor in world affairs than it has chosen to be in the past".

"My task is to make sure that we stay together, so if I started to freely reflect on all possibilities, then I would undermine the unity of this alliance", Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story.

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