Trudeau praises ben­e­fit of shar­ing in­tel­li­gence

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOANNA SMITH

BRUS­SELS — Canada’s deeply en­trenched role in the fight against global ex­trem­ism is more fo­cused th­ese days on in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing — and shar­ing — than on putting more boots on the ground in the Mid­dle East, Justin Trudeau sug­gested Thurs­day.

“The track record has shown that col­lab­o­ra­tion and co-op­er­a­tion be­tween al­lies, friends and part­ners has saved lives and keeps all of our cit­i­zens safe,” Trudeau said at the out­set of a day­long NATO meet­ing in Brus­sels. “We are go­ing to con­tinue to col­lab­o­rate and to work to­gether to en­sure we’re do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to keep cit­i­zens and our com­mu­ni­ties safe.”

Trudeau brushed aside con­cerns that NATO’s agree­ment to in­crease in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing in the fight against ter­ror­ism comes amid ac­cu­sa­tions that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and oth­ers in the U.S. are play­ing fast and loose with sen­si­tive se­crets.

The White House has come un­der fire over rev­e­la­tions Trump shared Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence in a meet­ing with Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov. And the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment as­sailed U.S. of­fi­cials for leak­ing sen­si­tive de­tails and crime-scene pho­tos from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mon­day’s deadly ter­ror­ist at­tack in Manchester.

Trump is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day say­ing the White House in­tends to get to the bot­tom of what he called “deeply trou­bling” leaks.

“The leaks of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion pose a grave threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity,” the state­ment said.

The North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion lead­ers spent Thurs­day hun­kered down in­side the sparkling new Brus­sels head­quar­ters to dis­cuss how they can bet­ter co-or­di­nate ef­forts in the fight against ter­ror­ism — and bet­ter share the cost of de­fence.

Their main mo­ti­va­tion, though, was to woo Trump, whose coun­try is a driv­ing force be­hind the mil­i­tary al­liance — a body he de­scribed as “ob­so­lete” dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign.

To that end, NATO Sec.-Gen. Jens Stoltenberg an­nounced the al­liance would be for­mally join­ing the U.S.-led coali­tion against the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant, al­beit with­out a role in com­bat op­er­a­tions.

“NATO join­ing the coali­tion to de­feat (ISIL) is a strong po­lit­i­cal mes­sage of unity in the fight against ter­ror­ism,” Stoltenberg said.

All 28 NATO al­lies, in­clud­ing Canada, are al­ready part of the anti-ISIL coali­tion, and the mil­i­tary al­liance has been in­volved in train­ing Iraqi forces.

Still, Trump had been urg­ing the al­liance to take on a big­ger role.

The calls for unity — and a strong al­liance — were com­ing fast and fu­ri­ous from var­i­ous lead­ers through­out the day, with Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel lay­ing it on par­tic­u­larly thick dur­ing a cer­e­mony to in­au­gu­rate the new build­ing. “Our com­mon val­ues are not ob­so­lete,” Michel said.

And while NATO agreed to as­sess its “level of sup­port and the fu­ture of the mis­sion” in Afghanistan, Trudeau be­trayed no en­thu­si­asm for send­ing sol­diers back.

“We have no troops in Afghanistan at this time, but we are happy to be sup­port­ive in other ways.”

SEAN KILPATRICK, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Singh Sajjan stands with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau as he holds a news con­fer­ence at NATO head­quar­ters in Brus­sels.

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