Canada to command new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission in Iraq

Canada To Lead NATO Training Mission In Iraq

As NATO seeks to prove relevance, Canada offers to lead Iraq mission

Even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to defend against U.S. President Donald Trump's demands that Canada invest more in defence, a new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation report suggests Canadian military spending as a percentage of GDP will fall sharply this year.

"The mission is the natural next step for Canada, as we move forward from the successful fight against [ISIS] to helping build institutional capacity in Iraq and create the foundations for longer-term peace and stability", according to a statement issued by Ottawa on Wednesday.

"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.

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.

In a possible attempt to outflank Mr. Trump's demands for money, Mr. Trudeau announced that Canada would lead the Iraq training and military academy building mission for the first year, and stands ready to provide 250 troops and an unspecified number of helicopters.

"Our first - and really our only consideration - was what served the Canadian national interest, what served Canadians, what was appropriate to do for Canada given our role in the world and the very great interest we, as Canadians, have in a functioning, rules-based global order", Freeland said.

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. Germany leads a similar force in Lithuania, Britain leads one in Estonia and the US leads in Poland.

The NATO Secretary General announced that in future the Alliance will be able to quickly transfer troops from the USA and Canada to Europe if necessary.

Eihenbaums said security is also a concern when it comes to trade - Latvia has been trying to grow its exports to Canada under the Canada-EU trade agreement.

The prime minister is expected to use the extension to defend Canada from criticism from Trump that America's northern neighbour is not spending enough on defence.

"The Trump-Putin summit could potentially aggravate US allies who want to isolate Putin", said Jayson Derow, a research analyst at the NATO Association of Canada.

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