Statement by Minister Cannon on U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategic Review

(No. 81 - March 27, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement concerning the U.S. administration's Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategic Review:

"We welcome the publication of the U.S. Strategic Review on Afghanistan and Pakistan and congratulate the Obama administration on what, on first examination, looks to be a very compelling, comprehensive and realistic assessment of the situation.

"We look forward to thoroughly assessing the review and its implications for our own efforts ahead of The Hague Conference on Afghanistan and the NATO Summit.

"There are many elements of the plan set out in the review that Canada and Canadians would recognize from our own transformation of the mission in the past year, including an integrated military-civilian strategy complemented by a considerable increase in civilian staffing, a focus on benchmarking and an emphasis on more effectively building capacity of the Afghan Army and Police.

"The review also focuses on a more coherent and aligned approach to development, and the Government of Afghanistan's ability to deliver programs and services to its citizens. In addition, it aims for more combat troops and enablers on the ground to secure and hold areas, thereby facilitating development and reconstruction efforts, and the rule of law.

"We have said consistently that success in Afghanistan will never be achieved through military means alone. That is why Canada is investing significant effort on our areas of priority, bringing capacity building to Afghan National Security Forces, promoting governance and the rule of law, increasing access to basic services and supporting economic growth.

"The Prime Minister noted at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008 that it was unrealistic to think that foreign forces alone could defeat Afghan insurgents, so Canada's benchmark for success will instead be to train Afghanistan's own armed forces to take over the job of fighting the Taliban.

"Canada also welcomes the acknowledgement that what happens in Pakistan directly affects what happens in Afghanistan, given that our own forces work in a border area. Canada will continue to provide opportunities to promote economic growth along the Kandahar-Baluchistan border in particular.

"Canada will carry on supporting the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to address the important economic and security challenges it currently faces. Stability in Pakistan is vital for regional stability and security.

"We are pleased to see that the objectives in the new U.S. policy are complementary to Canada's own priorities. We look forward to working with the U.S. in order to reach our ultimate common goal of leaving Afghanistan to Afghans, a country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure.”

For more information, please visit the website Canada's Engagement in Afghanistan.

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