EU military wants to partner with Canada in Mali as it races for exit

As Canada's military mission races to leave Mali and the United Nations pleads for it to stay, the European Union is making a fresh appeal to the Canadian Forces to partner with it in the West African country.

Gen. Esa Pulkkinen, director general of the EU's military staff, told The Canadian Press that he has asked the Canadian government to bring its military training expertise to Mali as part of a broader effort to stamp out Islamic extremism in Africa's Sahel region.

Pulkkinen said he's aware of the context of his request, it comes as Canada faces pressure from the UN to extend its Mali peacekeeping mission in order to bridge a gap until Romanian replacements can arrive.

But he says Canada would make a great bilateral partner with the EU's military training efforts in West Africa, which he says are crucial to stamping out security threats to Europe.

Those threats include the mass northward migration to Europe, an increase in the smuggling of arms, drugs and human trafficking, as well as terrorism.

Pulkkinen was in Ottawa this past week, and said he was planning to make a formal request to Canadian officials after raising the matter informally.