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Rudaw

Iraq

Canada to reestablish embassy in Iraq after 26 years

By Rudaw 13/1/2017
AFP file photo: Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs who was sworn in on Tuesday.
AFP file photo: Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs who was sworn in on Tuesday.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Canada will reopen an embassy in Iraq for the first time since 1991, when it closed prior to the Gulf War, a move that demonstrates Ottawa’s renewed efforts to strengthen ties with the region.

“To deliver on Canada’s commitments, our diplomatic footprint in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan is in the process of expanding with up to 24 new field staff based in the region to increase the effectiveness of our engagement and cooperation with local and international partners,” Joe Pickerill wrote in an email to Canada’s second-largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

Pickerill is director of communications for Chrystia Freeland, who was sworn in as Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs on Tuesday.

Iraq’s ambassador to Canada, Abdul Kareem, welcomed Canada’s plan. He said it is important that Canada demonstrate reciprocity in its diplomatic relationship with Iraq, which has an embassy in Ottawa and consulate in Montreal. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) closest representation is in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a huge step forward in the diplomatic relationship between Canada and Iraq,” Kareem said to the Globe and Mail by interview. “Many, many years … we didn’t have an ambassador residing in Baghdad. This reflects the fact that we kind of hear with the new Canadian government that Iraq is a very important country for them.”

Canada’s ambassador to Jordan had remotely carried out diplomatic affairs. Canada currently has a mission in Baghdad, where Crystal Procyshen is the Chargé d’affaires. Canada also has a diplomatic office in Erbil staffed by one Canadian political officer. It was not immediately clear if the embassy reopening in Baghdad would change the Canadian diplomatic office in Erbil into a consulate.

In February 2016, the Canadians promised to provide Peshmerga forces with $9.5 million in rifles, ammunition, and light mortars, but the shipments have yet to be delivered. Canadian officials have said the agreement must be signed off on by Baghdad and Erbil and the arms require “adequate controls.”

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan met with KRG President Masoud Barzani twice in 2016, the latest being in December.

Rudaw reported in June 2016 that Canada was increasing the number of its special forces in Kurdistan to more than 200, and that a helicopter squadron would support them.

In the three-month-long battle to retake Mosul from ISIS, Canadian special forces have advised and assisted Peshmerga forces. Canada also provided a field hospital to provide emergency care for battle causalities.


AFP file photo: Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs who was sworn in on Tuesday. 

Comments

 
Dick Fageroni | 13/1/2017
What are battle causalities?
Fb | 14/1/2017
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