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Harjit Sajjan to visit Mali as Liberals debate where to send peacekeepers

Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan arrives for a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Oct. 26, 2016.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will travel to Mali and Senegal next week as the Liberal government considers where to send hundreds of Canadian peacekeepers.

The UN has made no secret of its desire to see Canadians deployed to Mali, which is home to one of its largest and most dangerous peacekeeping missions.

More than 100 blue helmets have been killed in Mali over the past four years, including 32 this year.

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Sajjan's office says the defence minister is simply collecting information and the visit should not be seen as an indication Canada is about the join the Mali mission.

Still, there's no denying Mali has become a popular destination for Canadian officials in recent months.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited there during a three-country tour of West Africa at the beginning of September.

The government sent a reconnaissance team of officials from National Defence, Global Affairs and the RCMP to take a closer look at the UN mission around the same time.

Officials have said a decision on Canada's next peacekeeping mission should be announced before the end of the year.

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