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Canada weighs US request for more help in Mideast

September 24, 2014

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday Canada is weighing an additional U.S. request for military help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Harper said he received the request in the last few days but declined to share details because the Americans “didn’t make the letter public.”

Harper made the announcement during a panel discussion in New York hosted by Canadian diplomats and the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief. The prime minister said there needs to be some debate within his government before he makes a final decision.

“The PM indicated that we have now received a request for additional support in the fight against ISIL from our allies. No decision has been made yet and our discussions with allies are ongoing,” Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group that is sweeping over Iraq and Syria.

Canada has over 60 military advisers already in Iraq as part of an effort to bolster Iraqi forces against Islamic militants after a request from President Barack Obama. U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes tweeted earlier this month that the U.S. welcomed Harper’s announcement that Canada would sent military advisers to Iraq as part of the U.S. effort to support Kurdish forces.

Canada has also earlier contributed two military cargo planes that carried weapons to Kurdish fighters.

Canada’s former Liberal government refused a request to send troops when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, straining ties between the two neighbors. Canada then stepped up its mission in Afghanistan in an effort to repair ties with Washington.

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