OTTAWA - France is looking for financial backing from Canada and the world to support the international military mission in Mali, says the country's Canadian envoy.

Ambassador Philippe Zeller also said Canada's contribution of a C-17 military transport plane could be extended beyond the initial one-week commitment.

"It's possible that this plane, that came from Trenton to south of France, might be used for some more time," the envoy said Wednesday just after his president, Francois Hollande, spoke to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by telephone.

Harper's office made no mention of extending the C-17 mission in a statement about the telephone call.

Zeller told The Canadian Press that his country is grateful for Canada's contribution of a military transport plane to the Mali mission, but says money is needed to support the international force, which will eventually be buttressed by 2,500 French troops.

"Of course, it's up to Canada," Zeller said in a wide-ranging interview prior to his meeting Wednesday with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the ambassadors from Mali and the Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara is the current chair of the Economic Community of West African States, a key regional bloc.

Zeller said last month's United Nations resolution supporting Mali opens the door for Canada and other countries to provide funds to support the international mission of African and French troops that is about to take on al-Qaida-linked forces occupying the country's north.

"We understand that every opportunity to help and intervene is still on the table with the exception, clearly expressed by the prime minister at the beginning of last week," Zeller said.

Harper has ruled out any Canadian combat contribution, saying that's not how he interprets the UN resolution urging support of Mali.

Zeller said, though, that Canada and all 190-plus members of the UN can still respond to the resolution "to provide funds, to finance the training of the Malian troops, to fund the inter-African troops, to train, to help at every level."

Harper has said Canada would focus on diplomatic solutions and humanitarian assistance. Canada's loan of a C-17 transport plane is good for one week, to see France through the logistical set-up of its combat mission to oust Islamist extremist forces in Mali's north.

In welcoming the three envoys to a scenic boardroom that overlooked the Ottawa River, Gatineau Hills and the French Embassy, Baird said he had come to listen and assess what Canada might do next.

Baird also "expressed our deep concern over the developments of recent weeks and applauded France's commitment to restoring security in the north and protecting Mali's territorial integrity," said his spokesman Rick Roth.

Zeller said Africa represents the world's next economic growth area, and terrorists must not be allowed to establish a base, as they have in Mali's north.

"Clearly we also think Africa is the future of the world economy and that's very important. And we all know how important Mali is in the neighbourhood for natural resources and also its proper development."

Some critics are urging Harper not to be gun-shy about sending troops to Mali. After all, they say, Canada fought in Afghanistan.

Zeller rejects all comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan, though he agrees the threat of terrorism must be contained before it destabilizes West Africa.

"We do not make that exact comparison. There are some objective aspects where it is very difficult to set up a comparison — historical, geographical, territorial and so on," he said.

"Secondly, it's clear that it's not only an attack on Mali itself but the security of the entire West African region. In that sense, I would not share the view that there is no major interest of other countries."

France is increasingly taking on the role of the world's policeman in Africa, while Canada is following the U.S. and British and staying in the background.

Zeller disagrees with the view that France is being left alone by its Western allies to do the heavy lifting in Mali.

"I will not say that France is alone actually," said Zeller, noting contributions from across Europe and North America.

"I wouldn't say there is no real interest. The fact is that France took the decision to act extremely rapidly due to the circumstances, but we see global support everywhere."

He highlighted the European Union plans for a military training mission expected in late February or early March.

Britain is sending two heavy-lift military transports while the U.S. is to provide intelligence-gathering assistance, but has not ruled out lending extra air support.

Germany said Wednesday it will send two military aircraft to help transport African troops, while Italy said it was prepared to offer logistical support for air operations. Germany also pledged the equivalent of $1.3 million for humanitarian aid.

France answered a direct plea from Mali's president to intervene, when it appeared the insurgents in the north were in a position to make gains in the south, including the capital Bamako, which is currently a safe enclave.

Last Friday, France answered with the first of what would be more than four dozen air strikes on the Islamist forces.

Zeller said France had no choice but "to intervene as soon as possible when it was obvious that these terrorist troops were deciding to attack the south part of the country. It's now clear that with non-intervention we could have had a situation in Bamako that would be very bad."

Now, the counter attack is set to begin, and it will be preceded by two days' of heavy airlifts to prepare, he said.

Zeller said the imminent addition of 900 fresh Nigerian troops is also welcomed.

They are to be joined by hundreds of fighters from Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Senegal.

Zeller said the Canadian links to Mali are undeniable. It was the country's fourth-largest aid contributor prior to last March's military coup that created the power vacuum which sparked the occupation of the north.

"When Canada helped some international or regional missions for training troops and military schools and military training, when Canada sent experts to help Mali in its rural activities and also in its mining development, it's useful to create that link," said Zeller.

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  • French Gazelle military helicopters, flying back from the city of Timbuktu, arrive at the French army base camp airport on January 28, 2013 in Sevare. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows Chadian soldiers securing Gao airport, north of Mali, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows a Chadian soldier securing Gao airport, north of Mali, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows a Chadian soldier securing Gao airport, north of Mali, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows a Chadian soldier securing Gao airport, north of Mali, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows Malians soldiers arriving at Gao airport, north of Mali, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows Malian soldiers boarding a French Transall military plane in Bamako, Mali, Saturday Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Monday Jan. 28, 2013 shows Malian soldiers boarding a French Transall military plane in Bamako, Mali, Saturday Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ghislain Mariette, EMA-ECPAD)

  • French Gazelle military helicopters, flying back from the city of Timbuktu, arrive at the French army base camp airport on January 28, 2013 in Sevare. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French Gazelle military helicopter, flying back from the city of Timbuktu, arrives at the French army base camp airport on January 28, 2013 in Sevare. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French Gazelle military helicopter, flying back from the city of Timbuktu, arrives at the French army base camp airport on January 28, 2013 in Sevare. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French Gazelle military helicopter, flying back from the city of Timbuktu, arrives at the French army base camp airport on January 28, 2013 in Sevare. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Malian soldier stands at a checkpoint near Sevare on January 27, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Malian soldier stands at a checkpoint near Sevare on January 27, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Malian soldiers wait at a checkpoint near Sevare on January 27, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Malian soldiers wait at a checkpoint near Sevare on January 27, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • French soldiers are waiting the arrival of the French Defence Minister before their departure to Mali on January 25, 2013 at the Miramas ZRA (Zone de Regroupement et d'Attente) military base, southern France, as part of the French military operation codenamed Serval.(GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Bin Laden sticker adorns the tank of a small motorcycle in Mopti, some 630 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • French soldiers return from patrol in Sevare, some 620 kms (400 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • A U.S. Air Force transport aircraft with French military personnel and equipment aboard takes off for Mali from Istres airbase, near Marseille, southern France, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

  • A French soldier stands guard as he arrives in the city of Diabaly, on January 21, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French soldier deployed near city of Diabaly keeps post from a machine gun mounted vehicle on January 22, 2013. (SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Residents look at an abandoned Malian army tank in Diabaly on January 22, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Malians walk past a burnt pickup truck mounted with a machine gun, which was formerly used by Islamists and destroyed after air strikes by the French air force a week ago, at a Malian military base which had been temporarily captured by Islamists, in Diabaly, on January 22, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French soldier deployed in Diabaly patrol on January 22, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A man and woman on a scooter ride past a Malian soldier controlling a strategic bridge on the Niger river on January 22, 2013 near Markala, 270km North of Bamako. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French soldier stands next to a military truck near Malian army buildings which were taken by Islamic jihadists before being destroyed during aerial bombings, in the city of Diabaly, on January 21, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • French soldiers arrive in the city of Diabaly, on January 21, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • French soldiers arrive in the Malian town of Diabaly on January 21, 2013. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A French Legionaire stands guard as groups from various units of the Air Force, Ground Army (Armee de Terre) and the French Foreign Legion fly out for a military operation in the north of Mali on January 21, 2013. (FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A foreign press photographer shoots pictures of a man holding a French flg on a street of Bamako on January 17, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken with a mobile phone on January 12, 2013 reportedly shows Islamist insurgents in Gao. (STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Malian man sells flags, including French ones, on a street of Bamako on January 17, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Malian man sells souvenirs, including French ones, on a street of Bamako on January 17, 2013. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • French helicopters are towed to the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Mali National Guard soldiers stand guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, as a commercial jet takes off during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Mali's President Dioncounda Traore, center, visits the troops on the military side of Bamako's airport, Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Mali army cadets secure a perimeter on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Mali National Guard soldiers stand guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • A Mali National Guard soldier stands guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • A Mali gendarme directs traffic on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • A Malian soldier stands guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Mali National Guard soldiers stand guard on the military side of Bamako's airport Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, during a joined visit to French and Malian troops by Mali's President Dioncounda Traore and French Ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • This night vision photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows French military armored vehicles on Bamako airport, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeremy Lempin, ECPAD, EMA)

  • This photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows a Rafale jetfighter flying over Mali, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2013. (AP Photo/Adj Nicolas-Nelson Richard, ECPAD, EMA)

  • This photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows French soldiers carrying ammunition at Bamako airport, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeremy Lempin, ECPAD, EMA)

  • This photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows a Rafale jet fighter refueling over Mali, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Adj Nicolas-Nelson Richard, ECPAD, EMA)

  • Members of pro-Islamic human rights groups gather in front of the French consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 to protest against France's military intervention in Mali. (AP Photo)

  • Members of pro-Islamic human rights groups shout slogans in front of the French consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 to protest against France's military intervention in Mali. (AP Photo)

  • An Ivorian officer (sitting) and other ECOWAS army officers prepare a document during a meeting of chiefs of staff on January 16, 2013 at the Mali peacekeeping traning center in Bamako. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A soldier stands guard during a meeting by ECOWAS chiefs of staff on January 16, 2013 at the Mali peacekeeping traning center in Bamako. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)