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Canadian defence minister urges 'de-escalation' of U.S.-Iran dispute

Last Updated Jun 27, 2019 at 4:19 pm EDT

Minister of National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 28, 2019. Canada will lead a NATO training mission in Iraq until November 2020 after the federal government approved an extension to the operation. New of the extension comes as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and counterparts from other NATO countries are in Brussels to discuss the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is calling for calmer heads to prevail as a war of words between the U.S. and Iran threatens to turn into a war of bullets and bombs.

Such a conflict could easily spill over into Iraq and the surrounding region, where around 850 Canadian soldiers are deployed as part of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Speaking from Brussels, where he is meeting counterparts from across NATO, Sajjan says Canada would like to see a “de-escalation” between the U.S. and Iran, including a shift back from military posturing to diplomacy.

In the meantime, Sajjan says, officials are watching closely to ensure Canadians Forces members are prepared should the situation worsen.

The dispute revolves around U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from an agreement his predecessor Barack Obama signed with Iran that limits Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.

Iran has since been accused of attacking several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and threatened to stockpile more nuclear material than the agreement allowed, while the U.S. has imposed new sanctions and launched a cyberattack on an Iranian militia.

The Canadian Press