Harper and African Union chief discuss possible Canadian military help for Mali

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper is hosting African Union President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is widely expected to ask the prime minister for Canadian troops to support the international mission to Mali.

The chaos and violence that have gripped the West African country for much of the last year will be high on their agenda, after the military coup there in March led to a group linked to al-Qaida seizing control of its north.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay stoked speculation about the mission last week when he said Canada would be willing to send military trainers as part of a mission to Mali.

But the Conservatives say they have not been formally asked to contribute to a military mission.

Robert Fowler, the retired Canadian diplomat who was kidnapped by terrorists in Africa, says Canada has indeed been asked because of last month's UN Security Council resolution on the crisis in Mali.

Fowler, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, says the resolution urges member states to contribute military training, equipment, intelligence and logistics support to combat terrorism.