Baku-APA. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said here Tuesday that Canada will not send troops to Mali.
Harper made the remarks at a joint press conference with Thomas Boni Yayi, president of the Republic of Benin and chairperson of the African Union, APA reports quoting Xinhua.
"The government of Canada is not considering a direct Canadian military mission," Harper said. But he stressed "the development of essentially an entire terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of great concern to everyone in the international community."
Last month, a UN Security Council resolution supported a proposal to send an African-led force of 3,300 soldiers to Mali and called on member states to contribute troops, equipment and other support to the landlocked West African country that was struck by a military coup in March, 2012, and where the al Qaida-linked militant terrorist group, Islamic Maghreb,known as AQIM, has taken control of the country's northern region.
Boni Yayi, who arrived in Canada Monday for a five-day visit to push for the UN resolution, told reporters that "other forces outside the African continent" could help restore the "territorial integrity" of Mali, given "the seriousness of the situation and the resources that are required to implement this."
He said that NATO troops should play a role in the military mission that extends "beyond the scope of Africa" and that the "scourge of terrorism is an issue of the entire international community."
However, Harper said that while Canada is "very concerned about the situation" in Mali, it would concentrate its efforts on providing humanitarian aid and on diplomatic negotiations with its allies in Africa and the West.
Last week, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said that Canada would be willing to send troops to help train African forces.
Beyond Mali, Harper and Boni Yayi discussed trade and investment, and increasing economic growth in Africa through natural resource development.
To that end, the Harper government announced that it would contribute 15.3 million Canadian dollars over five years to the African Mineral Development Centre, created by the African Union in 2011.
"The development of mining, oil and gas resources in Africa is critical to the future prosperity of the continent," Harper said in a statement, noting that Canada's financial support would help African countries "manage their natural resources responsibly and transparently with a view to accelerating sustainable economic growth, creating jobs and reducing poverty."
The two countries also signed the Canada-Benin Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) to provide "better protection for Canadian companies operating in Benin" and further strengthen economic ties between the two countries, according to a news release from the Prime Minister's Office.
In 2011, the two-way merchandise trade amounted to 14.1 million Canadian dollars (14.3 million U.S. dollars), with exports to Benin valued at 14.08 million Canadian dollars (14.27 million U.S. dollars).
Once approved by both nations, the investment deal with Benin will mark Canada's first FIPA in Sub-Saharan Africa.