PM Justin Trudeau announces new Canada led training mission in Iraq

PM Justin Trudeau announces new Canada led training mission in Iraq

In January 2017, the alliance established a small team of civilian and military personnel in Baghdad to coordinate training and capacity-building activities in support of Iraqi security forces and institutions.

"Since NATO's creation in 1949, Canada has played a strong and active role in missions to advance people and security for our citizens and people around the world", Trudeau said in a statement. "This announcement today extends our commitment for four more years".

The Canadian military has had a presence in Iraq since September 2014, when several dozen special forces were deployed to the country as part of a USA -led coalition to help local Kurdish forces beat off an ISIL offensive that threatened to overwhelm the country.

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. He called the extended mission of Canadian troops in Latvia "a great present" that will contribute significantly to national security.

Canada assumes command of the mission, which will be led by an as yet unnamed Canadian major-general, for one year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to steer clear of Donald Trump's blast radius Wednesday as the two leaders converged for the first day of the NATO leaders' summit, opting to meet informally to discuss North American trade irritants instead of the burning issue of defence spending.

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Trump's ongoing efforts to portray Canada and other member states as pinching pennies when it comes to the military spending target of two per cent of GDP - a benchmark agreed to by allies at the 2014 summit in Wales.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to Latvia to pay a visit to Canadian troops, and underscore Canada's military dedication to NATO prior to the treaty organization summit following this week in Brussels.

"Will they reimburse the USA?"

The president acknowledged Monday on Twitter that other member states have increased their defence spending, but repeated his complaint that the US contributes far more than other countries, which he said "is not fair nor is it acceptable".

"Canada knows that a peaceful world, a more democratic world is good for Canada, is good for all of us and that's why we believe so deeply in NATO, that's why we stand so strongly with the trans-Atlantic alliance, and we'll continue to step up everywhere we can", said Trudeau. "Two world wars and a Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart", he said, adding that the U.S. troop presence in Europe allows Washington to project military power into Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

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