TORONTO – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he is confident that Canada's contribution to the mission against the Islamic State group will be "significant" despite Canada's previously announced decision to remove its fighter jets.
Kerry, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and Mexico's Claudia Ruiz Massieu held a meeting in Quebec City on Friday. New Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to remove the six jets but has said Canada will ramp up its military training role.
Kerry said he looks forward to hearing the plan.
"While they have made a choice with respect to one particular component of that effort that does not reflect on the overall commitment or capacity to contribute significantly to the road ahead," Kerry said. "We have confidence that Canada will continue to make a significant contribution."
Dion said Canada will unveil its plan soon and says it "will be well-received, I am quite optimistic."
Canada was excluded from a meeting of defense ministers in Paris earlier this month to discuss the fight against IS in an apparent snub. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter didn't mention Canada in a speech in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, ahead of the meeting when he said he would meet defense ministers from nations in Paris who are playing a "significant role" in the coalition.
The U.S. has asked coalition members to boost their military contributions in Iraq and Syria against IS after the deadly attacks in Paris in November.
Trudeau long ago said Canada would pull its jets and made it a part of his election campaign. After he won the Nov. 19 election, he said allies understand that Canada will step up military training for forces fighting IS. Canada has had 69 special forces soldiers in a training role in northern Iraq with the Kurds. A Canadian soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in a friendly-fire incident last year.
The Canadian mission also includes six CF-18 fighter jets, a refueling tanker aircraft, two surveillance planes and one airlift aircraft, with about 600 airmen and airwomen based in Kuwait. The Canadian jets continue to participate in air strikes, and it is unclear when Canada will remove the planes.