Canada to Afghans: prepare for our 2011 pullout

Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:27pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a blunt message to Afghanistan on Wednesday that Canada would not renew its military mission there past 2011.

"I think we have to say to the government of Afghanistan, 'We have an expectation you are going to be responsible for your own security'," Harper told reporters during an election campaign stop in Toronto.

Canada has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan's violent Kandahar region, and Harper's minority Conservative government reached a compromise agreement this year with opposition parties to end the mission in 2011.

"I don't think the Canadian public will want to continue after that, I don't think the Canadian military -- although they wouldn't admit it -- would want to continue after that," Harper said.

Canada would have "done our bit at that point," he said.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

<p>Canadian soldiers ride their armoured vehicles as they keep watch in Arghandab district in Kandahar province June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani</p>