|Canada Set to Send Police, Prison Experts to Iraq|
Canada is likely to send policing, legal and prison experts as well as transport aircraft to help with the reconstruction of Iraq, but there is virtually no chance of Canadian troops making the trip, U.S. and Canadian officials said on Monday.
Canadian sources said a decision on Ottawa's contribution would be announced on Tuesday, when the federal cabinet is due to discuss how to respond to a wide-ranging U.S. request for help in Iraq.
'We expect to get a positive reply this week and we're grateful for the help that Canada will provide in the reconstruction of Iraq,' U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told reporters in Ottawa.
The announcement should help ease tensions with Washington, which arose when Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced Canada would not contribute troops to the Iraq war.
'We're getting positive signals and we understand it could involve Royal Canadian Mounted Police to help with the training of police officers, it might involve court personnel to help establish the rule of law,' said Cellucci.
In recent years some 1,200 members of Canada's renowned Mounties have been sent to other trouble spots, including Haiti and Kosovo.
In addition, U.S. and Canadian officials said Ottawa was likely to contribute C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft as well as experts in running prisons.
'We need to make sure we have prisons that are well run. Iraq needs some of those basic things that societies have to have. You've seen and heard about some of their prisons -- those are not the models we want there,' said Cellucci.
Canada has already committed C$100 million ($69 million) for short-term humanitarian relief in Iraq.
The request for troops was made in a wide-ranging diplomatic note from Washington to its allies earlier this month but Canadian sources said that would be rejected.
'We'll definitely be sending policing and other experts, but there will be no troops,' one official told Reuters.
Earlier this year Chretien sidestepped the question of whether to send troops to Iraq when he announced that up to 2,000 soldiers from the already stretched armed forces would be dispatched to Afghanistan this year to take part in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
'We know that Canada has made a substantial commitment to stabilization forces in Afghanistan this summer, we're very grateful for that, and we know that might well make it difficult for any forces to be sent to Iraq,' Cellucci said.
Canadian officials said there was still a question over whether to send part or all of the armed forces' specialized 200-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which is designed to cope with natural disasters such as earthquakes.
'It's still possible that DART will go. It depends on what is needed,' one official told Reuters.
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