Kuwait to serve as Afghan staging base
Canada has a new stopover in the Persian Gulf on the way to Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Monday.
MacKay said the government has signed an agreement with Kuwait that gives the Canadian Forces a staging base to refuel or restock on the way to and from the region.
Canada will use existing sites in Kuwait as transit points for people and equipment moving in and out of Afghanistan. A spokesman for MacKay says Canada is not paying the government of Kuwait for establishment of what the agreement calls "the intermediate staging terminal."
The initial agreement runs for three years from Monday, but the agreement will automatically be renewed unless it's formally terminated.
The agreement comes months after Canada was forced to leave its Camp Mirage base in the United Arab Emirates because of a dispute over landing rights in Canada for the UAE's commercial airlines.
Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan ended last week, but a 950-person training mission will continue in Kabul until 2014, maintaining the need for a logistics base. Another 200 people will staff the operation in Kuwait.
The Department of National Defence said logistics operations through Kuwait will start this year to help redeploy equipment and other goods out of Afghanistan.
Most Canadian equipment must be transported out of Afghanistan by air because it's a land-locked country. Equipment will go to Kuwait to be washed and loaded onto ships before returning to Canada.
A statement from MacKay's office says the mission requires access to an airport and sea terminal to move equipment and vehicles from Afghanistan.
MacKay is in Kuwait for two days of meetings.