Canada tapped to lead new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation training mission in Iraq

Patty Hajdu

Liberal MP Patty Hajdu speaks at the Moose Hall in Thunder Bay on Thursday Dec. 21 2017

Canada will take command of a new training mission in Iraq created to counter the threat of a Daesh re-emergence, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday at the NATO Summit in Brussels.

Canada's mission leadership role faced a self-imposed government deadline of spring 2019, but has now been extended until 2023.

Canada will send up to 250 personnel and four Griffin helicopters and make up the bulk of the force for the NATO Western military alliance, beginning this fall.

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis said that despite the great distance separating the two countries, cooperation between Canada and Latvia is a lot better than is the case with plenty of countries that are a lot closer to each other.

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 most importantly we have decisions that are pushing this alliance forward and making us stronger", Xinhua quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying during a press conference at the end of the first day of the NATO Summit taking place in Brussels.

There's a big target, however, painted on Trudeau's back.

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.

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"Will they reimburse the USA?"

Trudeau said Canada will not double its defence budget to get to that mark.

"The US puts its troops in different parts of Europe and it occurs, including within the processes of rotation, in particular in the Baltic States", - said Stoltenberg.

Over two days, the leaders are also expected to announce that they will continue to help fund the Afghan army.

Mr Abbott says while Canberra increased defence spending from 1.6 per cent of GDP to 2.0 per cent, "more needs to be done" given the 60 per cent rise in military spending across the region in the past decade.

His appearance at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation comes just ahead of another summit between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a meeting many have questioned in light of rising aggression coming from Russia in the Baltic region.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story.

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