Harper: Canada “Confident” About Afghanistan Troop Commitment
~ Karzai supports continued international presence in Afghanistan ~


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking alongside Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, told a Bucharest Conference audience he is “very confident” that Canada will receive the troop support it needs to sustain its operations in Afghanistan despite French wavering.


“I am optimistic...whether it is at this summit or in the weeks to come,” Harper said. “We've had good discussions with allies. We are very confident.”


Karzai, for his part, said Afghanistan will continue to need the support of the international community for a long time to come.


“We would like an effective continuation of the two missions that we have here,” Karzai said. “One is the fight against terrorism. The other is the rebuilding of Afghanistan and especially the rebuilding of the security institutions, the army. As it is a gradual improvement on our side, it is also a gradual reduction of responsibility on the shoulders of the international community.”


De Hoop Scheffer said he hopes he can count on Russian support for NATO’s biggest ongoing mission.


“With respect to Afghanistan, Russia and NATO are discussing how Russia can support ISAF through transit and transport arrangements which would facilitate NATO’s lines of communication,” Scheffer said. “I would hope at the very least that Bucharest can demonstrate two things…that NATO and Russia are able to discuss difficult issues in an open, constructive manner, there is concern to identify real solutions [rather] than simply score points, and that notwithstanding those difficult issues, we are able to move our practical cooperation forward in areas such as Afghanistan, where we really have identified common interests.”


Addressing whether a Membership Action Plan (MAP) would be extended to Georgia and Ukraine, de Hoop Scheffer said that no matter what the official decision is tomorrow at the official summit, NATO expansion will not stop after Bucharest.


“Our message will be positive and unambiguous,” he said. “Yes, both countries have their place in Euroatlantic integration. Our door is open. And provided they meet our standards, one day they’ll pass through it if they so wish.”

Read More

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The Bucharest Conference

NATO cannot do without Russia, and Russia cannot do without NATO"

Jaap De Hoop Scheffer

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