Canadian military transport to support French-Mali mission for up to 30 days

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The Harper government's commitment of a giant Canadian air force transport to support of the French military action in Mali has gone from one week to one month.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will issue a statement later today saying the C-17 Globemaster will continue to ferry war materials and vehicles between France and the Malian capital of Bamako until Feb. 15.

Defence sources say no other aircraft or military support has been earmarked for the campaign.

There had been speculation that the government would provide a C-130J Hercules transport to carry African troops into Mali, where forces are fighting to retake the northern half of the country from al Qaida-linked militants.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ruled out "direct" Canadian military involvement in the campaign, which began on Jan. 10 with the arrival of as many as 2,500 French troops to defend Bamako.

However, he has sought out opposition parties in order to build a political consensus in Canada about whether there should be further support, and how that might play out.