Canada offers to lead new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation operation in Iraq

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Canada plans to provide a senior general to oversee the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission, which will see hundreds of military trainers teach their Iraqi counterparts to counter IEDs, maintain armoured vehicles, work with civilian authorities and provide emergency medical aid.

Trudeau made the announcement in Riga following a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and indicated that he hopes the increased Canadian commitment to Latvia gets the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trudeau will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff.

"I think it's an important metric, amongst many others, to gauge how countries are doing in terms of contributors to NATO", Trudeau said of the two-per-cent benchmark.

The Canadian military has had a presence in Iraq since September 2014, when several dozen special forces were deployed to the country as part of a US -led coalition to help local Kurdish forces beat off an ISIL offensive that threatened to overwhelm the country.

Canada will extend its contribution to NATO's enhanced forward presence battalion, Trudeau added: "Our mission's current mandate ends in 2019".

Mr Abbott says while Canberra increased defence spending from 1.6 per cent of GDP to 2.0 per cent, "more needs to be done" given the 60 per cent rise in military spending across the region in the past decade.

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Some see the controversial meeting as an undermining of the alliance itself, considering some of NATO's active military missions - including the one in Latvia - were undertaken in direct response to Russia's escalating aggression in the Baltic region.

The Iraq mission will complement Canada's existing efforts as part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, to which it has been contributing air power, medical support and help in training Iraqi forces since 2014.

Eihenbaums said security is also a concern when it comes to trade - Latvia has been trying to grow its exports to Canada under the Canada-EU trade agreement.

Last year, the Government of Canada unveiled Strong, Secure, Engaged - a comprehensive, ambitious, once-in-a-generation defence policy which includes historic new funding for Canada's military.

The NATO Secretary General announced that in future the Alliance will be able to quickly transfer troops from the U.S. and Canada to Europe if necessary.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story.

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