Less than a week after closing its embassy in Iran, Canada is moving quickly to review security at its foreign mission in Libya after the U.S. ambassador to that country and three of his staff were killed.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, traveling in India, told reporters Canada has no personnel in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city where the attack took place Tuesday. But it is continually evaluating the safety of its staff in foreign postings such as the Libyan capital, Tripoli, CBC News reported.
"It's an attack on diplomacy and obviously we continually look at the safety and security environments for Canadian personnel," he said.
"We're obviously not present in Benghazi. But as you would expect we'll re-evaluate the environment, as we regularly do, for our personnel in Tripoli. Obviously, we understood that [the country] wasn't going to go from Moammar Gadhafi to Thomas Jefferson overnight, and we continue to put our hope in the actions to bring civil society and pluralism and democracy to the people of Libya."
Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff died in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in what what was initially blamed on a mob angry about a U.S.-made film that disparages Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was also attacked by demonstrators.
But U.S. officials now say the Benghazi demonstration may have been used as cover for a pre-planned attack on the U.S. compound, possibly by al Qaida as a way of marking Tuesday's anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Canada has five staff working at its embassy in Tripoli. Baird has visited Libya twice since the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, reopening the Canadian embassy last October.
The fatal attack on the American envoy came less than a week after Baird closed Canada's embassy in Tehran, in part out of concern for the small staff's safety, and ordered Iranian diplomats out of this country.
"Canada strongly condemns and deeply regrets yesterday's senseless attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya," Baird said in a brief, strongly worded statement, according to The Globe and Mail.
"We call upon Libyan authorities to take all necessary measures to protect diplomatic premises in accordance with Libya's international obligations. We also urge Libyan officials to ensure the extremists responsible are brought to swift justice."
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has confirmed all Canadian embassy staff in Libya and Egypt, which has about 30 staff, were safe, the National Post reported.
"We take the safety of our personnel in our missions overseas very seriously," spokesperson Jean-Bruno Villeneuve told the Post. "We're monitoring events closely and taking the appropriate security measures."
Villeneuve would not elaborate on what those measures were.
The United States has dispatched a small quick-reaction force of U.S. Marines to Libya to bolster embassy security and reportedly put other military units on notice that they may be deployed to protect its other diplomatic outposts.