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Canada to resume Pakistani military training

Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Canada will resume an officer-training program with Pakistan's military that has been suspended for more than a decade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Tuesday.

Canada severed its military-to-military relations with Pakistan in 1998 when the South Asian country conducted its first nuclear tests.

Mr. MacKay said the program may resume by fall.

“It would be more like an officer-exchange program,” he said in an interview. “So, not so much in terms of us training their officers here, but at a staff college level where you would have seminars and lectures that could occur.”

The defence minister is in Islamabad for talks with his counterpart Ahmad Mukhtar and other government officials.

The meeting came just days after Mr. MacKay said instability was making Pakistan perhaps the most dangerous country in the world.

The Canadian government has long expressed concern about Taliban activity in northwestern Pakistan, along the border with neighbouring Afghanistan where more than 2,700 Canadian troops are deployed.

The unrest has spilled over into Pakistan as the country battles a growing insurgency by Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The fighting in nuclear-armed Pakistan has heightened tensions around the world.

Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was evidence Pakistan was adding to its nuclear weapons systems and warheads.

Mr. MacKay said Mr. Mukhtar did not confirm reports Pakistan was expanding its nuclear arsenal, thought to be more than 60 nuclear weapons.

“There was no confirmation that I heard today that they were, in fact, adding nuclear weapons to their arsenal,” he said.

Mr. MacKay added that he encouraged Pakistan to move away from nuclear proliferation.

“We did talk briefly about the subject insofar as maintaining that Canada, as a non-proliferation nation, encourages Pakistan — along with other countries — to seize upon this opportunity,” he said.

“Other countries, I think, are recognizing that there is an opportunity to move away from escalation and look at ways in which we can put out of use much of the nuclear arsenal that exists in many countries around the world.

“That message, I believe, was received here.”

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