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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Travels to Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta received Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay on January 7. Minister McKay traveled to Afghanistan for meetings with Afghan and Canadian officials, as well as to visit Canadian-funded projects throughout Kabul. At the Vocational Training Center for Vulnerable Afghan People in Kabul, Minister MacKay spoke with carpenters, welders, tin smiths and their students. Minister MacKay also met with Afghan women who are benefiting from the Center’s micro-finance section.


President Karzai and Foreign Minister MacKay met at the Gul Khana Palace to discuss security in Afghanistan and the region, the fight against terrorism, and Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Foreign Minister Mackay reiterated Canada’s continued support for the Afghan people. “Canada will continue assisting the Afghan people in ensuring security, accelerating reconstruction work, boosting the Afghan economy, and strengthening and equipping the Afghan security forces,” said Minister MacKay.

Minister Mackay stated that Canada will donate an extra US$ 10 million for Afghanistan's Law and Order Trust Fund, and will donate further resources to build on the success of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development’s micro-credit loan projects.

President Karzai expressed his gratitude for Foreign Minister Mackay and the Canadian people and pledged to send more Afghan National Army troops to fight terrorism alongside the Canadian forces in Afghanistan’s south. “Canada is among the countries which has helped Afghanistan enormously in the past 5 years, and the Afghan people will never forget their generosity,” he said.

After his visit to Kabul, Minister Mackay accompanied Foreign Minister Spanta to Kandahar Airfield, home to most of the 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Spanta addressed the soldiers, and said that he wanted to thank Canada "for their peace building in Afghanistan and building our common goals against terrorist activities." Minister MacKay said there was a lot of "tangible proof" of improvements that have been made in Afghanistan, citing new schools, hospitals and roads along with vocational training and microcredit programs to help develop the Afghan economy. "All of this shows that the Afghan people and the government have moved ahead considerably," he said. "And the pace, in my opinion, is only going to increase as we're able to bring about greater stability - particularly in the southern region."


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