Canada weighs options for possible military training mission in West Africa

Associated Press

HALIFAX - The Harper government is examining whether to dispatch Canadian troops to help train an African force whose purpose would be to take back a vast swath of Mali from an off-shoot of al-Qaeda.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in Halifax Sunday, said what form of military assistance can be provided to a growing international campaign is something that's under active discussion.

He said the government is contemplating what contribution Canada could make.

The United Nations recently decided to back a proposal from Economic Community of West African States — ECOWAS — to send 3,300 troops to the region.

Canadian special forces troops were active in the west African country for several training missions prior to the coup last March that installed a shaky interim government.

Those missions also took place before Islamic Maghreb — known as AQIM — overran much of the northern portion of the impoverished nation.

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