Canadian takes key role with UN forces on Korean Peninsula

The United Nations Command Military Armstice Commission Conference Buildings in Panmunjom, South Korea are seen in this 2013 file photo. A Canadian military officer has been named to a key role with the UN in Korea. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Canada is stepping up its military involvement on the Korean Peninsula by sending a senior officer to take over as deputy commander of UN forces there, the first time the post has been held by someone not from the U.S.

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre’s appointment follows the announcement last month that Canada is also planning to send a surveillance plane and several dozen military personnel to help crack down on North Korean smuggling.

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, shown above in a 2015 file photo with former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall (right), has been named to a key role with the UN in Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

The federal government says the buildup is part of an effort to increase Canada’s military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, which is becoming increasingly important to global peace and security.

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But it also comes at a critical time, as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepare for a highly anticipated meeting in Singapore on June 12.

The U.S., Canada and many other countries that fought for the UN during the Korean War are still technically at war with the North, though actual hostilities ended with the signing of an armistice in July 1953.

In the interim, the UN has maintained a multinational force involving 21 countries, which supervise the 244-kilometre demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

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