HALIFAX - The Harper government is examining whether to dispatch Canadian troops to help train an African force whose purpose would be to take back a vast swath of Mali from an off-shoot of al-Qaeda.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in Halifax Sunday, said what form of military assistance can be provided to a growing international campaign is something that's under active discussion.
He said the government is contemplating what contribution Canada could make.
The United Nations recently decided to back a proposal from Economic Community of West African States — ECOWAS — to send 3,300 troops to the region.
Canadian special forces troops were active in the west African country for several training missions prior to the coup last March that installed a shaky interim government.
Those missions also took place before Islamic Maghreb — known as AQIM — overran much of the northern portion of the impoverished nation.