U.K.'s Fallon says Canada 'absolutely not' snubbed at ISIS meeting
'Canadians are reviewing their entire effort in Iraq and seeing how they can help best'
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon denies that Canada was deliberately excluded from Wednesday's meeting in Paris of the coalition fighting ISIS.
U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and his defence minister colleagues from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Australia have assembled to form strategies around their collective efforts against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria forces.
But Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is not part of these Paris talks.
- Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says anti-ISIS meetings held 'all the time'
- Canada not invited to anti-ISIS coalition meeting in Paris
- 'Of course' allies want Canada's fighter jets to stay, says defence minister
- 2% of Canadian anti-ISIS airstrikes had targets in Syria
Canadian aircraft are currently part of the bombing mission in Northern Iraq and Syria, although Justin Trudeau's government maintains it will keep its election pledge to withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets at an as-yet unspecified date.
Canadians are also on the ground in Northern Iraq in an advise and assist capacity, training Kurdish ground troops.
Is this exclusion a snub by partners upset about Canada's withdrawal?
"That's absolutely not the case," British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told CBC News on Wednesday.
He declined to criticize Canada's decision to pull back some of its forces, and said Canada is still committed to their shared mission.
"It is just as important to help with training, which the Canadians are doing. And in fact, the Canadians are reviewing their entire effort in Iraq and seeing how they can help best," Fallon said.
Fallon suggested today's meeting is focused on a plan to cut off supply lines, control centres and ISIS's economic base: in his words, "cut off the head of the snake."
At the cabinet retreat in New Brunswick earlier this week, Sajjan denied that Canada was being sidelined, saying "meetings happen all the time" and this event was one among many.
With files from Tom Parry