LONDON – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has slowed down plans to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees within weeks in order to allay citizens' security concerns after the Paris attacks.
Trudeau had wanted to resettle 25,000 refugees in Canada by Dec. 31. On Tuesday, his Liberal government said Canada would resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year and another 15,000 by the end of February. Health and security screening will take place overseas, rather than once the newcomers arrive in Canada.
In London on Wednesday, Trudeau said last week's deadly gun-and-bomb attacks in Paris, claimed by the Islamic State group, had changed "the perception that Canadians had."
He said people who were previously supportive of the refugee plan "had a few more questions. And we realized that the most important thing is to be able to reassure Canadians that absolutely everything is being done to keep Canadians safe."
He said he did not want the refugees to be "a cause for anxiety or division."
Trudeau, on his first visit to Britain since being elected last month, met Wednesday with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and held talks with his British counterpart, David Cameron, at 10 Downing St.
Trudeau told an audience at the Canadian embassy, Canada House, that his country drew strength from its diversity, and refugees brought economic benefits.
"We're not just welcoming 25,000 refugees," he said. "We're welcoming 25,000 new Canadians."