By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Wednesday May 23, 2012
Harper pledges Afghan funds after troops exit in 2014
Canada is pledging $110 million annually to help fund the embattled Afghan National Army after the withdrawal of Canadian soldiers in March 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
The funding commitment is for three years, starting in 2015 and expiring in 2017, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Harper made the announcement on Monday afternoon at a summit of NATO leaders in Chicago, where U.S. President Barack Obama has been trying to drum up international support for the alliance’s post-combat involvement in Afghanistan.
NATO leaders used the summit to affirm their commitment to ending the deeply unpopular war in 2014 and voiced confidence in the ability of Afghan forces to take the lead for securing their country even sooner.
The alliance leaders formally agreed to a strategy that calls for a gradual exit of foreign combat troops as they held a second and final day of NATO meetings in Chicago, Obama’s hometown.
They declared in a communiqué that while NATO will maintain a significant presence in Afghanistan after 2014, “this will not be a combat mission.”
Harper described Canada’s contribution as generous, saying it was designed to set an example for other nations to follow.
It is estimated that it will cost $4.1 billion a year for Afghanistan to run its security forces once the NATO-led coalition pulls out in 2014. (Source: CBC News)