Canada extends leadership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation battlegroup in Latvia for four years

Canada To Lead NATO Training Mission In Iraq

Canada To Lead NATO Training Mission In Iraq

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada is extending its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitment in Latvia by another four years to March 2023 and will boost the number of troops in the country to 540 from the current 455 in a show of ongoing solidarity with the alliance.

The intervening years saw Canada deploy fighter jets, surveillance planes and air-to-air refuellers, a transport aircraft, a medical hospital and hundreds more special forces to help the coalition and Kurdish and Iraqi military forces push ISIL back and eventually defeat it on the battlefield.

"We stand behind the Prime Minister's commitment to running", said owner Nigel Fick.

I want to be clear: "we are absolutely committed to the protection of our allies and global peace and security", Trudeau said at a news conference following his talks with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.

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

Trump's "America First" policies have exposed major differences between the USA and many parts of Europe on issues as diverse as climate change, trade and tariff policies, and the Iran nuclear deal that the US leader has rejected. He wrote Trudeau ahead of the summit expressing "growing frustration" with the fact the two per cent target is still not being met by the majority of alliance nations.

"When America spends three per cent plus of the world's biggest GDP on its armed forces - and the rest of the Western world scarcely two per cent, it's hard to dispute Trump's view that most of us have been keeping safe on the cheap", Mr Abbott says.

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"Will they reimburse the US?"

Prior to the June NATO meeting and this week's annual ministerial, Pentagon sources told The Washington Times that Mr. Mattis meant to present the USA plan to expand the size and scope of the Iraqi military training operation - putting it on par with the ongoing mission in Afghanistan.

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. "Are we contributing the kinds of resources and demonstrating the kind of commitment to the alliance that always needs to be there?'"

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

Without those costs, Canada's reported defence spending would have been around one per cent of GDP.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story.

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