No plans to extend Afghan mission: Canadian minister

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Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has said that there are no plans to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan despite a suggestion from US Defence Secretary Robart Gates that troops should stay longer.

"Our combat mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011 as was previously indicated and there is no change in that position," Cannon said after meeting with Condoleezza Rice, outgoing US Secretary of State.

He was reiterating the Conservative government's rejection of calls for Canadians to stay on in Afghanistan by Gates during his visit to Afghanistan earlier this week, the Globe and Mail reported.

Gates, who will continue in his post under the Barack Obama Administration, suggested that an extended Canadian commitment in the dangerous area around Kandahar would be particularly welcome.

Rice did not make a similar suggestion in their discussion on Friday, Cannon said, who was on his first visit to Washington as Foreign Affairs Minister.

"That issue did not come up," he told a news conference at the Canadian Embassy. "Our position has been known now for some time ... we do not intend to change that position."

During a quick visit to Afghanistan on Thursday, Gates praised Canada but indicated Washington would prefer Canadian troops to stay in the country beyond the 2011 pullout date. (ANI)

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