Norway has joined the United States in criticizing the Canadian decision to withdraw its armed forces from Afghanistan next year.
The Norwegian foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Store, claimed that the arbitrary withdrawal dates proposed by the Canadian government does not accurately reflect the reality of the situation on the ground.
Mr Gahr Store said that Norway, a fellow NATO ally of Canada, sympathised with Canadian losses which have resulted in the withdrawal announcement, but that Norway had entered with NATO and will depart with NATO under agreement with Afghan authorities. As yet, there is no fixed date for the removal of Norwegian forces, reports inews.
Gahr Store’s comments followed a plea by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for Canada to reconsider its decision during a televised interview. Clinton suggested that the Canadian role could become more focussed on training than combat.
Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian foreign affairs minister, bluntly rebuffed the request by Clinton for his country’s troops to remain in the war-torn region until the end of the year. He said, “Our military mission will end in 2011,” adding that the Canadian position has been made “perfectly clear” to its coalition partners. Cannon did acknowledge, however, that his government was investigating non-military roles in Afghanistan after its troop withdrawal.