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Canada plans for non-combat transition in Afghanistan

By the CNN Wire Staff
Canadian soldiers patrol in Belanday village, Dand district in Kandahar on May 17, 2010.
Canadian soldiers patrol in Belanday village, Dand district in Kandahar on May 17, 2010.
  • Canada has played a major ISAF role
  • There will be up to 950 trainers and support personnel
  • Canada will focus on women's lives

(CNN) -- Canada, which is ending its combat mission in Afghanistan in July, on Tuesday announced "a new role" to play in the war-torn nation, with a focus on security, diplomacy, human rights and development.

"Building on strengths and accomplishments over the past years, Canada is committed to helping build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists," said Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.

The government says the estimated cost from 2011 to 2014 "is $700 million (US $694.5 million) a year over three years, although final costs will not be known until after 2014."

"The combat mission will end in 2011," Cannon said in a statement. "As we continue to work alongside the Afghan people and the international community, Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts toward a better future for all Afghans."

A 'civilian surge' in body armor
  • Afghanistan
  • Canada
  • Kandahar

Based in the Kandahar area, Canadian forces have been one of the major troop contributors to NATO's International Security Assistance Force. There are more than 2,900 troops at present, ISAF said, and 152 Canadian service members have lost their lives in the conflict, according to a CNN count of the fatalities.

After next year and until March 2014, Canadian troops will continue training Afghan security forces and will provide up to 950 military trainers and support personnel.

"Since this mission began, Canada, along with our international partners, has helped to train and mentor about 50,000 Afghan troops. The post-2011 non-combat training mission will further contribute to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security," said National Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Canadians will work to improve the lives of Afghan women and back the G-8 Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Canada also will help with other humanitarian efforts.

"The future of Afghanistan resides in the hands of women, children and youth," said International Cooperation Minister Beverley Oda.

"Thanks in part to our investments, we have achieved significant progress in helping improve life for women and children, but more progress is required, especially in Afghanistan's education and health sectors. Canada will continue to place an important focus on women in its development work in Afghanistan."

Canada also will work in the area of regional diplomacy, continuing its efforts in areas such as border cooperation.

"Canada will continue to facilitate dialogue and advance concrete activities to improve cooperation among the countries in the region, in particular between Afghanistan and Pakistan," the government said.

"Canada is well-placed to continue this leading role and will further support projects that counter violent extremism in border regions."