|OTTAWA (CP) - Canadian diplomats and senior military commanders held high-level talks with the United Arab Emirates in January about joining the fight against the Taliban. |
The Arab nation was apparently interested in contributing a small number of special operations troops who would have come with battle tanks and self-propelled artillery.
Questioned about it in the Commons Friday, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said the mission in Afghanistan is not limited to NATO countries and he would encourage others to join the effort.
"There are 11 countries beyond NATO in Afghanistan, all contributing to better security and a better life for the Afghan people," the minister said.
"We would encourage other countries to join the UN-NATO-led effort to make the life of Afghan people better for the future."
Get a more Muslim face on reconstruction efforts and lessen the load for NATO. But the NPD fears this might actually help so they sabotage the effort.
|Documents obtained by the federal New Democrats under access to information laws show that Col. Fred Lewis, deputy commander of Task Force Afghanistan, met Emirates military staff over a five-day period in January to discuss "the feasibility of a bilateral agreement." |
It's not clear whether there was a resolution to the discussions and a spokeswoman for O'Connor did not respond an interview request Friday.
New Democrat MP Libby Davies accused the Conservatives of trying to create a "Bush-style troop surge" in Afghanistan, referring to U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to increase American troop strength in Iraq.
The fact Canada was in discussion with a country outside of NATO to commit militarily to the war in Afghanistan was both unusual and troubling, she said.
"This is a very key issue for Canadians," she said following question period.
"The government has to provide clarity and information and they have to give assurances as to what the heck they are doing.
This is treason on a grand scale, no way about it. The left is determined to undermine anything that will contribute to success.