News Release Article from  National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Minister Sajjan concludes successful visit to Europe and Middle East, visits troops ahead of holidays

December 23, 2015

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan today wrapped up a successful visit to Europe and the Middle East, where he met with key allies, setting the stage for strong and collaborative working relationships ahead.

Central to the Minister’s discussions was how to work together to effectively address pressing international security and defence challenges which threaten the global community. Minister Sajjan underscored Canada’s strong commitment to working bilaterally and multilaterally with partners and allies, highlighting a number of current military operations in which Canada is engaged with NATO Allies, as well as our ongoing military contribution to the Global Coalition against ISIL.

Minister Sajjan also had an opportunity to visit with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members currently deployed on operations in the Middle East and Europe. He thanked them for their dedication and commitment to service, recognizing the hardship of being away from loved ones during the holiday season. 

Quick Facts

  • From December 17-18, 2015, Minister Sajjan visited London, England where he met with his British counterpart, Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon, for the first time. The two defence leaders expressed a mutual desire to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, including allied contributions to the Global Coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
  • On December 19, 2015, Minister Sajjan traveled to Cairo, Egypt. During his visit, he met with Minister of Defence, Colonel General Sedki Sobhi, for talks on defence and security matters. He also met with Canadian Major-General Denis Thompson, who he personally thanked for his leadership in promoting peace in the region as Force Commander for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).
  • From December 20-21, 2015 Minister Sajjan visited Iraq. While in Baghdad, he met with senior Iraqi government officials, including Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi. The Minister took the opportunity to reiterate Canada’s continued commitment to the Global Coalition and to discuss how to optimize Canada’s support for a stable and inclusive Iraq.
  • The Minister then travelled north to Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where he met with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani, along with a number of other senior officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). During their meetings, the Minister acknowledged the important role that the KRG and Kurdish security forces are playing in fighting ISIL, citing their recent successful counter-attack on a coordinated offensive by ISIL in Northern Iraq. He offered condolences for loss of life suffered by security forces.
  • Minister Sajjan also had an opportunity to visit CAF members currently deployed as part of Operation IMPACT, Canada’s military contribution to the Global Coalition against ISIL. There are approximately 69 CAF personnel working in Iraq in an advise and assist role, providing strategic and tactical advice to Iraqi security forces.
  • On December 22, 2015, Minister Sajjan traveled to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Dr. Mohammed Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and State Minister for Federal National Council to discuss regional security challenges. The Minister also visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, an important centre of Islamic study that promotes ongoing and peaceful inter-faith dialogue.
  • The Minister concluded his trip on December 23, 2015 with a visit to CAF members currently deployed on HMCS Winnipeg as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance measures to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.


“I held a number of productive discussions with my counterparts in Europe and the Middle East this past week where it was agreed that ongoing cooperation is crucial as we work to address a number of common security challenges. Canada stands united with our allies and partners and will continue to make positive contributions to multinational peace and security efforts.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“During this holiday season, I want to pay special thanks to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, currently serving and away from their loved ones. Your dedication to service is recognized with pride as you work to defend Canada’s interests and keep Canadians safe.” 

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

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