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Harper speaks with Obama about further aid in Iraq

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain on Aug. 11, 2014.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday, with Canada pledging unspecified further humanitarian aid, as needed, in Iraq.

Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama "exchanged views on the developments in Iraq," a statement from Mr. Harper's office said Tuesday. That included Mr. Harper expressing "his strong support" for U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State fighters, formerly known as ISIS, which Canada considers a terror group.

Mr. Harper also "indicated Canada stands ready to offer additional help, and that Canadian officials will work with their counterparts to identify ways in which Canada can continue to support the humanitarian effort," according to the Canadian statement. It did not specify what that help might ultimately include.

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The White House account of the call said the two leaders "agreed to work with other partners in the international community to provide additional, immediate humanitarian assistance" but offered little detail. Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama "agreed on the need" for Iraqi leaders to "put aside their differences and to form an inclusive government capable of pulling the country together," the White House said.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird last week endorsed the U.S. move to authorize air strikes and drop humanitarian supplies amid fighting in Iraq. Canada announced another $5-million in humanitarian aid to Iraq on Sunday.

In Iraq, Haider al-Abadi was nominated Monday as the country's new prime minister. Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama "shared their hope that a new Iraqi government would be able to unite behind an inclusive government to counter the current crisis," the Canadian statement said.

The Harper-Obama call was revealed by the White House earlier in the day, through the online release of a photo showing Mr. Obama seated in a short-sleeve, collared shirt, speaking on the phone with a pile of papers in his lap. The caption indicated he was speaking to Mr. Harper from Martha's Vineyard, where the President is on vacation. Mr. Harper's office later released a photo of him calling the President from his office.

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