Ottawa: Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has reaffirmed Canada's 2011 exit from Afghanistan despite reported pleas from NATO's chief for an extension of Canada's deployment in the war-torn country.
"Our government is abiding by the motion passed in Parliament in 2008 -- that is that our combat forces will leave by 2011," Cannon said.
Earlier, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen remarked while visiting a Canadian development project in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, that he would like to see Canada stay beyond 2011.
"Of course I'm not going to interfere with the domestic politics in individual allied nations, but seen from an alliance point of view, I would strongly regret if that became the final outcome of the Canadian considerations," he was quoted as saying by public broadcaster CBC.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my strong appreciation of the significant Canadian contribution to our mission in Afghanistan," he said.
"At the end of the day, it is a question of our own security. We cannot allow Afghanistan, once again, to become a safe haven for terrorists. And I also think it is in Canada's interest to ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."
Canada currently has some 2,800 troops based in Kandahar as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
First Published: Friday, August 07, 2009, 09:13