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Afghan documents leak includes Canadian angle

OTTAWA - The United States asked Canada to put diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia and South Africa over Taliban fundraising activity apparently taking place in the two countries.

OTTAWA - The United States asked Canada to put diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia and South Africa over Taliban fundraising activity apparently taking place in the two countries.

The revelation is contained in nearly 92,000 pages of classified American documents released by online whistleblower Wikileaks.

The classified military material includes details of American strikes on Taliban militants, and civilian deaths. It also contains documents about Pakistan's intelligence agency, and potential evidence that it was working with Taliban insurgents.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon refused to get into the details of what was contained in the documents, joining other governments in decrying the leak of sensitive information.

"This is about leaked U.S. documents, and yes, our government is concerned that operational leaks could endanger the lives of our men and women in Afghanistan," Cannon said.

He added that the documents have, "nothing to do with Canada."

But Canadian diplomatic and military activities in Afghanistan do appear in the material.

One report details a 2007 meeting between Canadian foreign affairs officials and U.S. embassy officials.

The diplomatic cable outlines how Washington wanted Ottawa to join it in issuing a formal protest - known as a demarche - to both Riyadh and Pretoria.

It's long been known the Taliban have relied on sympathetic Saudi charities to bankroll their weapons and munitions purchases, but the revelation about South Africa is stunning.

According to the report,a top Canadian official was receptive but asked to see more specifics before agreeing.

It's unclear whether the Conservative government followed through with the protest.

The cable also makes reference to a possible diplomatic protest to the United Arab Emirates over the same issue, but there are few specifics.

Cannon did not comment directly on the question of whether the Pakistani government could be trusted as an ally in the region, given some of the details that have surfaced from the documents.

"You're asking me whether or not I'm concerned with such and such a state. I can tell you we're working in close co-operation on a number of initiatives with both the Pakistan and the Afghanistan governments."

 
 
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