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Prime Minister Stephen Harper Assures President Karzai that Canada is Determined to Win the Peace in Afghanistan


On May 22 President Hamid Karzai received Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Harper met with Afghan officials and visited Canadian troops and Afghan students.


“The world must remain engaged in Afghanistan until the country manages to stand on its own feet or terrorists will strike again,” said President Karzai during a joint news conference.


Prime Minister Harper said that Canada would remain in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and assist in developing Afghanistan's economy and government infrastructure. He said bringing security to Afghanistan could not be achieved through military means alone.


“Canada and Afghanistan have together made significant progress in the last 14 months, progress that was unthinkable only a few years ago,” he said. “Yes, there remain enormous challenges, but our determination is strong.”


President Karzai encouraged Canadians to remain resolute in their dedication to the protection of Afghans, as well as to their own substantial contribution to global security. "Let us complete the job as hard as it may look at times," he said. "It is a necessary price that we have to pay; the Afghans are paying that price, the rest of the world is paying that price together with us ... and let us complete it and not abandon it half way."


Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan is the country’s largest deployment in the world. 54 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in the line of duty since 2002. Canada is also in discussions with NATO to provide the Afghan National Army (ANA) with much needed Leopard tanks to improve their capabilities in the field against Taliban insurgents. This would be a first step in a larger ANA transition from Soviet-designed equipment to gear that is more compatible with NATO troops. The Afghan government has requested that the international community provide more equipment, vehicles, and helicopters and planes to the ANA. The ANA is expected to have around 70,000 personnel by 2008, and recently announced the creation of six new highly trained commando battalions numbering 650 soldiers each.


President Karzai expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people for Canada’s contribution to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, especially the vital stabilizing role that they are playing in Kandahar.


The prime minister presented President Karzai with a red romper for his newborn son, before moving on to visit with students at the Aschiana school. Prime Minister Harper spoke with the nearly 200 boys and girls enrolled in the school, and participated in music, art, drama, and carpentry classes.

 


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