Harper and African Union chief discuss possible military help for Mali

OTTAWA – Canada is not looking at sending the military into the fight against Islamist insurgents in Mali, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday.

He ruled out intervention even as the visiting head of the African Union stood beside him and called for NATO to jump into the troubled country alongside African forces.

“The government of Canada is not considering a direct Canadian military mission,” Harper said after a private meeting with President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin, head of the union.

“We are providing humanitarian aid to this region, which is important, and we are consulting with — and working with — and will continue diplomatically with our allies in the west and obviously our friends in Africa on ways that we can be of assistance.”

Yayi, however, said he wants to see NATO play a direct role in Mali alongside an African-led force authorized by the United Nations last month.

“I think that NATO should add its forces to our efforts so this could be a global mission,” he said.

He said the insurgency in Mali, where rebels have seized the northern parts of the country, poses a terrorist threat to the whole world.

Harper agreed with that sentiment:

“Obviously, we are very concerned about the situation. The development of essentially an entire terrorist region in the middle of Africa is a grave concern to everybody in the international community.”




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