Thursday, 3 April 2008

Canada Relieved on Afghanistan Reinforcements

The Canadian Globe and Mail reports the addition of French troops for the NATO misison in Afghanistan, and the welcome it has received from the Canadian government:

"The French have confirmed they are sending an additional battalion to Afghanistan," Sandra Buckler, director of communications for the Prime Minister, told reporters after a working dinner of NATO leaders on the eve of the summit. A battalion is usually about 700 to 800 soldiers but can be 1,000 or more. "Subsequently, the Americans have confirmed that, as a result, they will commit additional resources in the south, including Kandahar province," she said, adding official confirmation of this will take place today. In mid-March, Parliament approved an extension of Canada's military mission on the condition that NATO allies supply 1,000 more troops and help Canada obtain helicopters and aerial drones. When asked whether the French-American moves fulfill Canada's conditions, Ms. Buckler replied, "It's good news for Canada and good news for NATO."

Candian Prime Minister Steven Harper has been concerned to get reinforcements to assist Canada in Kandahar. His minority government is not stable, and the Afghanistan mission has proved increasingly unpopular in Canada, not least because of perceptions that many Allies are not doing their part to help. The French decision may well take the sting out of Afghanistan as an election issue when the government falls.

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