Harper says Canada pondering possible contribution to proposed UN Mali mission

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is consulting the cabinet and opposition parties on what Canada could contribute to a possible United Nations peacekeeping mission for Mali.

Harper stresses Canada isn’t interested in a combat mission, but is considering what other military support and development aid it might contribute.

Standing next to visiting French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Parliament Hill, Harper expressed admiration for France’s military efforts to dislodge al-Qaida linked terrorists from Mali’s north.

Ayrault said France is pushing for a UN vote next month to approve peacekeepers for the West African country.

He said France wants its troops out of Mali and wants peacekeepers to take over from French and African forces currently fighting Islamic extremists.

Canada sent a C-17 military transport plane to support that campaign, a contribution which Ayrault said was essential for ferrying troops and equipment.