Politics
Canada's help in Mali mission 'appreciated': Fantino

Credits: JOCELYN MALETTE / QMI AGENCY

JESSICA MURPHY | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Canada is pulling its weight in the French-led mission in Mali and our help is "well appreciated," says International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino.

But the Conservative government will tread carefully before it makes any more decisions on further assistance.

"Obviously this is an ever evolving situation. We want to be sure the decision taken is absolutely the right one. We're going to be very cautious, very diligent," Fantino told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.

Canada is sending a C-17 transport plane to airlift troops and equipment to Mali, where French and African troops are battling Islamic militants in the north, until Feb. 15. On Tuesday, Fantino pledged an additional $13 million in humanitarian aid for the west African country.

Defence officials say the Canadian military has flown at least 12 cargo loads from France to Mali aboard the C-17 since mid- January.

The government has sent $76 million in aid to Mali since March 2012.

While the door is still open on further involvement, Fantino wouldn't say whether Canada had received specific requests for more assistance.

He also wouldn't discuss reports Canadian special forces were on the ground in Mali protecting Canadian staff and assets.

"We are always conscientious about protecting our Canadian people," he said. "We really can't get into the specifics. There's a lot of sensitivity as to this type of information," he said.

Ottawa has repeatedly said Canadian troops would not play a combat role in the mission.

The European Union will be hosting an international meeting on Mali Feb. 5.

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