Harper Affirms Canadian Help for UN-led Mali Mission, Except a Combat Role

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has extended Canada’s support to UN-lead military operation in Mali, while openly denying any involvement of direct combat role in the African country. Mr. Harper declared that a Canadian transport plane will carry on being a part of the ongoing mission in Mali, and that his government is considering the means to further aid in an eventual UN-led mission in the country.

Mr. Harper publicly informed during a news conference on Thursday, that “in terms of our longer-term engagement, I think you know well we are not looking to have a combat, military mission there.” He also revealed that the currently lent C-17 aircraft will remain in use “as long as we feel there is a need.” Mr. Harper elucidated that Canada will “be providing development and humanitarian assistance.” The UN is currently contemplating to install a 10,000-strong and heavily-armed force in the former French colony before presidential and legislative elections in July.

Mr. Harper mentioned that “the details of what our long-term engagement may be are still the subject of discussions that we are having among our ministerial colleagues, our caucus and, as well, we’re obviously talking to the opposition parties on their preferences.” These announcements were made by Canadian PM, while he was attending a joint news conference with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Ottawa, as he praised France’s “leadership role in fighting the terrorist threat in northern Mali.”

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