Fantino heads to Africa for talks on Mali conflict

International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino is heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday for a high-level international meeting on the conflict in Mali.

A release from his office Monday billed the talks as addressing "the financial, logistical and capacity building needs of both the Malian forces and the African-led International Support Mission in Mali."

Canada suspended its international development assistance to Mali following a coup in the country last spring, but it has provided humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations affected by the conflict.

Insurgents affiliated with al-Qaeda now control the country's north. The United Nations security council passed a resolution in December authorizing an African-led mission to attempt to restore order in the country and prevent the country's capital, Bamako, from falling to the rebel groups.

The French military intervened earlier this month, with first an aerial bombing campaign and then ground troops in support of the African troops now mobilizing in Mali.

In response to a request from the French president, Canada has provided a C-17 transport plane for moving equipment and potentially troops in and out of the conflict zone.

The mission was originally set to last for only one week, but last Thursday the government confirmed its extension through Feb. 15.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the first question period back after winter break to confirm Parliament will be consulted on Canada's next steps, but he didn't provide any additional details about either military assistance or humanitarian funding Canada may be considering.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, who had been pressing the Harper government to bring any extension of the Mali mission before the House of Commons for debate, requested the update in his inaugural question of the sitting.

"We will not undertake a Canadian combat misison in Mali," Harper told the Commons, reiterating his government's message over the past two weeks.

"We will through this chamber and through committees … be consulting with Parliament on any further steps that need to be taken," the prime minister confirmed.

[ [ [['xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx', 11]], '27013743', '0' ], [ [['keyword', 9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999]], 'videoID', '1', 'overwrite-pre-description', 'overwrite-link-string', 'overwrite-link-url' ] ]