OTTAWA, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 04th Nov, 2016 ) - As Canada considers where to send troops as part of a commitment to boost UN peacekeeping efforts, its defense minister will visit Mali and Senegal starting Saturday, the government said Thursday. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan will spend four days in the two countries to assess local security challenges and concerns. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters a decision on where to deploy Canadian peacekeepers would be announced "in the coming weeks, probably.
" In August, Trudeau pledged Can$450 million (US$350 million) and 600 troops for UN peacekeeping operations around the world. At the time, only 31 Canadians were deployed in a handful of locations -- Haiti, the Jerusalem region, South Sudan, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Korea. That was down from a reported peak of 3,000 in 1993. While in Mali and Senegal, Sajjan will meet with government officials, UN representatives and nongovernmental organizations.
Jihadist attacks in Mali, once concentrated in the north, expanded last year to all parts of the country. The United Nations has expressed interest in having Canadian tactical helicopters deployed in the region once Dutch aircraft leave in January. Sajjan, a former intelligence officer with the Canadian military, traveled recently to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "As we look at all aspects of conflict in Africa, we will be selecting a place where Canada can play a meaningful contribution," Sajjan told Parliament on Wednesday.
Trudeau said Canada had much to offer beyond "stopping people from shooting at each other." "Of course, (that) is important and one of the first things that we want to do in terms of peacekeeping engagement. But to limit it to that is to not understand all of the ways that Canada can and must be there to work in the world," he said. The youthful prime minister cited Canadian values of multiculturalism, good governance and corporate social responsibility.