Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Afghanistan’s two top political figures on the margins of the NATO Summit in Warsaw Friday as Canadian officials prepare for the renewal of funding for the war-torn country’s security forces.
NATO foreign ministers embarked on a process last fall to convince allies to continue to pay the bills for Afghanistan’s fledgling army and police force. The ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, approved a plan to raise $ 4 billion per year from the international community.
Donor countries began paying the bills for Afghanistan’s security sector following the 2012 NATO leaders’ summit in Chicago.
Officials speaking on background after the meeting made no reference to the funding issue and would only say that the prime minister emphasized “Canada’s longstanding and ongoing commitments to help Afghanistan build a sustainable future, a safe and secure and peaceful environment for its citizens, and a country that is well governed and in control of its own destiny.”
However, the government signalled that a fund decision is pending.
Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama slowed the pace of the American troop withdrawal and committed to leaving up to 12,000 soldiers in an advisory and support capacity past the end of his term early next year.
Despite a nearly decade long NATO combat mission — in which 158 Canadian soldiers lost their lives — and allies contributed a massive financial investment towards training local forces, the Taliban and other extremist groups remain a persistent threat.
U.S. commanders have publicly expressed concern on several occasions that Afghan troops and cops are suffering an unsustainable level of casualties.
The turmoil has only grown more acute with the fallout of Britain’s planned withdrawal from the European Union.
The argument being advanced in the hallways of the Warsaw summit is that it’s cheaper to fund Afghan security than to deploy Western troops.
Canadian officials said Trudeau also raised the governance, electoral reform and possible opportunities for cooperation in order to strengthen respect for human rights in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls.