Canada to spend 3.5 billion dollars in Afghanistan
Ottawa, June 6, 2006 (Xinhua) -Canada will have spent more than 3.5 billion Canadian dollars (3.2 billion US dollars) by 2009 in efforts to rout the Taliban and help Afghanistan restore peace and security, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said.
MacKay told the Commons defence committee on Tuesday that Canada 's total expenditure to date in the war-torn country amounted to 2.3 billion Canadian dollars (2.1 billion US dollars), the daily newspaper Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday.
That comprises 1.8 billion Canadian dollars in defence spending and another 500-million Canadian dollars in additional expenditure, including humanitarian assistance and democratic renewal.
Canada has promised to provide troops and security until 2009, which will cost an additional 1.25 billion Canadian dollars, MacKay said. The Canadian International Development Agency will spend a further 310 million Canadian dollars between now and 2011.
"Canada and its international partners are making a difference in Afghanistan" by helping to create a sense of security and self-sufficiency, as well as introducing freedoms that have not previously existed, MacKay was quoted as saying.
He said Canada would know its job in Afghanistan was done when the 40 or so recommendations that came out of an international conference on Afghanistan in London earlier this year had been achieved.
They include measures such as the development of an Afghan army, a police force and a border patrol guards, as well as a significant reduction in the number of land mines and a targeted increase in female employment.
Canada 's 2,300 troops stationed in southern Afghanistan are part of the US-led offensive against the Taliban remnants. The Canadian parliament narrowly passed a government motion last month to extend the mission by two years until 2009.
But a recent poll suggests that more than half of Canada 's population opposes the move, with many people accusing the troops of swerving away from their peacekeeping role by launching a war in Afghanistan , causing heavy casualties.