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‘Heartfelt thanks’ for Afghanistan: Obama

A dramatic improvement in the Afghan war effort could convince Canadians to remain engaged in the troubled country past 2011, when troops are due to return home, U.S.

A dramatic improvement in the Afghan war effort could convince Canadians to remain engaged in the troubled country past 2011, when troops are due to return home, U.S.

President Barack Obama suggests.

Obama said he doesn’t plan to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend the country’s commitment past the withdrawal date approved by Parliament last year when the two leaders meet here tomorrow.

But he said conditions could change dramatically leading up to the scheduled withdrawal.

“We’ve got until 2011, according to the Canadian legislature, and I think it’s important for the Canadian legislature and the people of Canada to get a sense that what they’re doing is productive,” Obama said in an interview yesterday with CBC News.

“Obviously, here as well, there are a lot of concerns about a conflict that has lasted quite a long time now and actually appears to be deteriorating at this point,” he said.

In an interview with CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge, Obama expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to the Canadian families who have shouldered the burden of Canada’s “extraordinary” contribution in the war-torn country.

The U.S. yesterday confirmed the deployment of an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan — the first instalment in a 30,000-troop surge.

Obama said he thinks that Afghanistan is “winnable,” but conceded that the United States took its “eye off the ball” as a result of the prolonged involvement in Iraq.

In the CBC interview, Obama urged Canadians not to be “too concerned” about the “Buy American” provisions in Washington’s fiscal stimulus package, calling Canada one of America’s “most important” trading partners.

 
 
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