On September 16, U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper met to discuss several items, including the on-going conflict in Afghanistan. During the limited press event following the meeting, two questions were asked of the leaders, both raising critical issues regarding the status of the military mission and Canada’s role post-2011.
Prime Minister Harper admitted the strength of the insurgency remained problematic in Afghanistan, additionally stating a foreign troop presence was not the answer in providing long-term safety and security in the country. He told reporters “the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan can in the long term only be done by Afghans themselves.”
When asked about the future of the American and Canadian presence in Afghanistan, President Obama stated “[the American administration is] in the process of making a strategy — a series of strategic decisions that will be sustainable, and we’ll be doing so in close consultation with our allies and our partners.” He continued on, indicating “[the U.S. will] make sure that the Canadian presence [in Afghanistan] fits into a coherent whole, and that it’s accomplishing our goals.”
Prime Minister Harper then went on to tout this country’s growing military commitment and increasing troop levels in the region, reiterating Canada would not be leaving Afghanistan in 2011, but merely transitioning to “a civilian humanitarian development mission[, a] transition [that] is already in place.”
To read the entire Obama-Harper presser transcript, click here.