Canada ups aid to Iraq to $300 million

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Canada will open embassy in Iraq as soon as possible.

The government will give an additional $200 million in aid to Iraq and open an embassy there.

This brings Canada's total aid commitment to Iraq up to $300 million.

"An effective and strong presence in Iraq is important," said Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, who made the announcement on Wednesday along with International Development Minister Susan Whelan.

Besides humanitarian aid, Canada can also help Iraq develop over the long term into a viable democratic society, Graham said.

Whelan said the government will be working with international agencies operating in Iraq. The humanitarian aid will be used to improve access to clean water, proper sanitation and improved health care.

The government's initiative comes at a time when it appears the U.S. and Britain will be running Iraq for the next year.

A draft resolution presented to the United Nations Security Council last Friday had those two countries taking the lead role, with the UN playing a smaller, advisory one.