'A civilian, development, humanitarian mission'

SaturdayThe Conservative government intends to keep some Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in a non-combat role beyond Parliament’s 2011 end-date for the military mission, CBC News has learned. Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, told CBC News there will be Canadian troops in Afghanistan after 2011, though “exponentially fewer.” “I would caution you against saying dozens or hundreds or a thousand, there will be exponentially fewer,” Soudas said. “Whether there’s 20 or 60 or 80 or 100, they will not be conducting combat operations.”

WednesdayPrime Minister Stephen Harper sought Wednesday to clear up any confusion about Canada’s role in Afghanistan after 2011, saying the military mission to the strife-torn country would end as planned by that date and be replaced by a civilian operation. “We are very much planning to have the military mission end in 2011,” Harper said in an interview with Global News in Edmonton. Asked directly if there would be a role for soldiers after 2011 or whether they would be pulled out, Harper said: “The plan is to move to a civilian, development, humanitarian mission.”

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