OTTAWA, May 16 (UPI) -- Canada secretly offered to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq while staying publicly aloof, a cable exposed by WikiLeaks shows.
On March 17, 2003, two days before the attack began, then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien told Parliament Canada was staying out of it, an extremely popular stand.
But the very same day, top Canadian officials met with U.S. and British diplomats at Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports, citing the WikiLeaks document.
"While for domestic political reasons ... [Canada] has decided not to join in a U.S. coalition ... they are also prepared to be as helpful as possible in the military margins," the secret U.S. cable stated.
Foreign Affairs official James Wright also "emphasized" that Canadian naval and air forces, already stationed at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to support the war in Afghanistan, could "discreetly" assist the coming U.S.-led assault on Iraq.
"This message tracks with others we have heard," the U.S. diplomat wrote to the State Department.
Wright, now Canada's high commissioner in London, declined to comment to the CBC.
The U.S. ambassador to Canada at the time, Paul Cellucci, said the leaked memo "sounds right."