March 14, 2013 / 2:58 PM / in 5 years

Canada to keep C-17 with Mali mission as long as needed

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper toasts France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault during a dinner in Ottawa, March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will extend the loan of its C-17 military cargo plane to France’s military operations against Islamic rebels in Mali as long as it’s needed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday.

“We’re obviously very pleased to assist with our plane and its team. It will remain there as long as we feel there’s a need,” Harper told a joint news conference with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The plane first flew in the Mali operation on January 15, and in mid-February, Canada extended the mission until March 15. Harper reiterated Canada would not take a combat military role in Mali but would provide development and humanitarian aid.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Janet Guttsman

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