Canada will lead new training mission for Iraq: NATO Secretary

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs Ottawa for Riga Latvia on Monday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs Ottawa for Riga Latvia on Monday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reviews an honour guard as they arrive at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine Tuesday July 12, 2016.

The meeting between Trudeau and Kucinskis focused on broader security issues and the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, which will take place in Brussels on July 11 and 12, as well as on economic cooperation between Latvia and Canada. The target was established by alliance leaders in Wales in 2014 in response to concerns about Russian aggression.

"My task is to make sure that we stay together, so if I started to freely reflect on all possibilities, then I would undermine the unity of this alliance", Mr. Stoltenberg said.

In a possible attempt to outflank Mr. Trump's demands for money, Mr. Trudeau announced that Canada would lead the Iraq training and military academy building mission for the first year, and stands ready to provide 250 troops and an unspecified number of helicopters. He said the 29-nation alliance supports the territorial integrity of Georgia, including its sovereignty over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

All NATO allies agreed in 2014 to stop cutting their military budgets and work towards spending two per cent of their GDP on defence by 2024.

The decline is largely the result of two one-time expenses a year ago, said National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier, one of which was a retroactive pay increase for service members that was included in the Liberal government's defence policy.

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"When you think of it, what Trump is making clear - to us and to others - is what should always have been screamingly obvious: that our nation's safety now rests in our own hands, far more than in anyone else's".

"European allies are stepping up".

Concerns about US disengagement have also deepened given that Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after the summit.

When asked if Trump would give Canada credit for heading the Iraq mission, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland ducked the question.

Trump took Twitter swipes at Canada following the G7 summit - mostly over Canadian dairy policy - but reserved his most persistent and personal attacks for Trudeau himself, calling him "dishonest" and "weak" for telling the closing G7 news conference that Canada would not be "pushed around" on trade.

U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have latched onto the target as an important indicator of how much individual members are contributing to the alliance.

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