OTTAWA: Canada on Monday vowed it would stick by its promise to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2011, just as Washington presses its allies to pour more resources into the eight-year war.
“As far as the specific issue of extending the mission, this government’s position is clear,” said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“The military component of the mission ends in 2011 and following 2011, we will look at what other contribution it can bring to the table, be it in reconstruction, be it in development, be it aid, be it training resources, but the military component of the mission comes to an end in 2011.”
His comments came ahead of Harper’s first White House talks with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, where the two leaders are expected to discuss the war in Afghanistan.
The meeting will last about an hour and focus on the economy and energy, as well as security matters and the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Soutras said.
The prime minister will also meet leaders of both houses of the US Congress, as well as members of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank. He will head to New York on Thursday for a speech before the Canadian American Business Council and the Canadian Association of New York.
Harper will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Environment Minister Jim Prentice and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.
Obama made his first foreign trip as president to Canada during a brief visit to Ottawa on February 19.