PM hints Canada might extend Afghan role

April 26, 2012 at 9:37 AM
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OTTAWA, April 26 (UPI) -- Canadian special forces combat troops could remain in Afghanistan after regular troops return home in 2014, Parliament was told.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied the United States had made a request for the commandos from Canada and Australia, but didn't rule out the deployment, the Toronto Star reported.

"Our plan at the current time is obviously for the mission that goes to 2014, but as we approach that date, we will examine all options and we will take the decision that is in the best interests of this country," Harper said.

The Star said it is known U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith last week in private meetings apart from a NATO summit.

Canada switched its role in Afghanistan from combat to training last year and has about 1,000 soldiers there. Some 158 Canadian soldiers have been killed and 635 others wounded in the 10-year-old NATO mission, the Globe and Mail said.

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