Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Will Increase Iraqi Trainers, Fight Climate Change with Obama: Trudeau

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Will Increase Iraqi Trainers, Fight Climate Change with Obama: Trudeau

Article excerpt

Trudeau: Canada will increase Iraqi trainers


MANILA, Philippines - Canada will increase the number of ground troops it has in Iraq to train local forces as a way of making a bigger military contribution to the coalition fighting Islamic militants, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

Trudeau said the increase, from the current number of 69 special forces trainers, is one of the scenarios being worked on as the government prepares to end the air combat mission of its CF-18 fighter jets in the U.S.-led coalition that is bombing targets in Iraq and Syria.

Trudeau disclosed the plan during a wide-ranging, 20-minute news conference aboard his Canadian Forces airliner, several hours before it touched down in the Philippine capital of Manila on Tuesday night local time for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.

Trudeau will hold a key bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the summit on Thursday, where he said they will discuss a range of topics, including the military mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the refugee crisis and their combined efforts to fight climate change.

Trudeau has remained firm that Canada will withdraw its six CF-18 jet fighters before its March 2016 commitment expires, but has faced pressure to climb down from that promise because of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris.

"I've committed repeatedly to my allies that we were going to do more on the training front and that means obviously more than just 69 trainers," Trudeau said.

"How many that will be, what form that will take, what kind of engagement we're going to have, those are things that we're going to work out."

Trudeau didn't offer specific numbers but he has cited the Forces Afghanistan training mission, to which the Harper government initially committed almost 1,000 troops.

Trudeau said he wants Canada to be "a strong and positive contributor to the continuing mission against ISIL," by training northern Iraqi troops to take the ground war directly to the militants.

Trudeau's arrival at the back of his aircraft to meet with almost two dozen travelling journalists was a marked departure in prime ministerial communications after the strict message control of the recent Harper decade.

The rookie prime minister, on his first international trip, described some of his behind the scenes activities at the G20 summit he'd finished attending the previous day.

He said he was looking forward to his first formal bilateral with Obama because "we're going to have a lot to agree on" despite the president's recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project from Alberta to the U.S. gulf coast.

"One of the things I pointed out in our very first conversation on the phone was his focus on getting big things done in his final year," he said. "Looking at legacy dovetails nicely with my desire to get big things done off the bat, in my first year, to set the tone for the coming years. …

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