Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Canada holds talks on Iran escalation with Nato allies in London

Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said she was increasingly concerned about the safety of Canadian troops in Iraq

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met Nato allies in London to discuss Iran. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met Nato allies in London to discuss Iran. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Canada has been in discussions with its Nato allies, including the UK and the Netherlands, in London this week about tensions between Iran and the West in the Arabian Gulf.

Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said she held meetings with Nato allies with the goal of finding ways the countries “can work together to de-escalate tensions with Iran”.

She said the Nato allies had also come together to discuss ways to ensure safe navigation in the region and the health of the global economy.

The tensions between Iran and western countries reached new heights last week when Tehran announced that it had breached the 2015 nuclear deal by beginning to enrich uranium beyond the level agreed to under the agreement.

The announcement came after several oil tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.

The US and the UK said Tehran was behind the attacks.

There has also been increased conflict in neighbouring Iraq in recent months.

Mrs Freeland said she was increasingly concerned with the situation in Iraq after militants attacked two US military bases in the country and Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone in June.

Canada has about 850 military personnel in the region and it holds the leadership of a Nato training mission for Iraqi forces, but Iranian-backed militias are also on the ground.

The Nato training mission was established in Brussels in July last year, following lobbying from US President Donald Trump that other members of the alliance should spend more on defence. “We are watching the situation in Iraq closely,” Mrs Freeland told The National on the sidelines of the Global Conference for Media Freedom.

“We are more than watching it closely because Canada of course has the command of the Nato training mission in Iraq, so we are very involved with Nato partners and working in close co-operation with the Iraqi government.”

“The situation in Iraq is delicate and that is the reason why Canada is there.

“We really do believe a de-escalation in the whole region is in the interests of the region and the world.”

She said she was concerned for the welfare of the Canadian troops in the region, but would not say whether there would be a redeployment of the country’s troops who are in Iraq.

She did, however, express her commitment to the Nato mission.

Updated: July 15, 2019 04:39 AM