Canada won't extend Afghan commitment, minister says

Sun Nov 9, 2008 9:52pm EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said on Sunday that a stepped-up emphasis by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on fighting terrorism in Afghanistan won't change Canada's plans to pull its military out of that country in 2011.

"While we welcome of course the Americans' renewed interest in Afghanistan, particularly President-elect Obama's position during the campaign ... the U.S. position will not change Canada's position as defined in our parliamentary resolution," Cannon said in an interview with CTV.

"We will be pulling out our military forces in 2011 and that is quite clear."

Canada has about 2,500 troops deployed in Afghanistan, mostly in the southern province of Kandahar. It has committed to extending its mission there until the end of 2011.

Since the Afghan deployment began in 2002, 97 members of the Canadian Forces have been reported killed there.

Cannon, who was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper after a Conservative minority government was returned to power in an October 15 federal election, also said he saw similarities between Obama's environmental policies and those of the Canadian government.

"We feel that this could eventually lead to a North American approach to the environment as well as finding ways to ... reduce greenhouse gases, Cannon said. "So we are quite enthusiastic about this."

(Reporting by Frank McGurty, Editing by Philip Barbara)

 
<p>A Canadian soldier from the NATO-led coalition walks through the village of Hajano Kali in Arghandab district, southern Afghanistan July 9, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly</p>