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Cablegate: Embassy Ottawa

VZCZCXRO0212
OO RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #2251/01 3462038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 122038Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7021
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0147
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0854
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 002251

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID PTER AF CA
SUBJ: MINISTERS CITE MEASURABLE RESULTS IN AFGHAN MISSION

REF: Ottawa 1903

1. (SBU) Summary: Foreign Minister Bernier and International
Development Minister Oda appeared before the House of Commons'
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee on December 11 to
describe progress in Afghanistan. The ministers insisted that the
resolve of NATO partners is strong, that development efforts are
yielding measurable results, and that Canada is "well on track" to
reaching its goals of stability, good governance, and lasting peace
in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, with the Manley Panel's report on
Canada's future role in Afghanistan (reftel) due in late January,
the government and the opposition are preparing for what could be
the most contentious parliamentary debates of 2008. End summary.

NATO COMMITED, ARMY AND POLICE ON TRACK
---------------------------------------

2. (U) Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier told the parliamentarians
that NATO's commitment to the Afghan mission remains "very strong"
and that NATO partners at the December 6-7 NATO Foreign Ministerial
in Brussels were "united in the conviction" that there could be no
reconstruction without security. He said that Canada's 350-person
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar is yielding results
in training of police, developing justice capacity, and promoting
governance.

3. (U) Canada will take the military lead in Regional Command South
(RC-S) from February 2008 and Canadian Forces are "well on track" to
reaching their goal of training the Afghan army and increasing its
capacity to mount independent actions, according to Bernier. Canada
is also taking a comprehensive approach to reform of the Afghan
police, and providing strategic advice, equipment, salaries, and
uniforms, as well as building infrastructure (such as police
sub-stations), mentoring, and training, he added. Forty-six
Canadian civilian and Military Police trainers are currently on the
ground in Kandahar. Between 2002 and 2008, Canada will contribute a
total of $39.8 million in wages for the Afghan police.

RECONSTRUCTION EFFORT DELIVERS RESULTS
--------------------------------------

4. (U) Minister Beverley Oda announced that in 2008 the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) will increase the number of
its field staff in Kandahar to 35. Under the terms of the Afghan
Compact, she said, Canada will spend $1.2 billion on reconstruction
aid for Afghanistan by 2011. Both ministers cited "significant
achievements" and "real results" in Canada's efforts to promote
access to education and basic health care in Afghanistan,
particularly for women and girls. They also noted that Canada had
recently increased its already significant contribution to de-mining
by an additional $80 million over four years.

NEARING ANOTHER VOTE
--------------------

5. (U) Regarding the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan,
Minister Bernier said that the government is committed to holding
another vote in the Commons in 2008, but that the government does
not believe that Canada should abandon Afghanistan after 2009. He
said the government wants the debate to be "as non-partisan as
possible" and denied that the government had already made up its
mind and is "gearing up" to impose its vision on Parliament. He
stated the government's action on this issue has been "transparent
and clear," that -- in a minority position -- the government will
have to listen to opposition parties, and that it would carefully
consider the advice of all MPs and of the independent Manley panel,
Qconsider the advice of all MPs and of the independent Manley panel,
and arrive at a consensus in the House of Commons.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Ministers Bernier and Oda's briefings were firmly "on
message," insisting that the Afghan mission is yielding measurable
results, that development is happening, and that the mission's
balance of development and security will improve as the security
situation stabilizes. Probably to the disappointment of the
government, there was little or no significant press coverage of
these positive iterations about the accomplishments of the current
mission. Both parliamentarians and the public may be looking more
toward the recommendations of the Manley Panel (due in late
January), although many opposition MPs have told us privately that
nothing the panel could propose would change their parties'
positions on the future of the Afghan mission. Expectations are
that the debates in the Foreign Affairs Committee and in the full
House on the next resolution about the fate of Canadian Forces in
Afghanistan after February 2009 will be heated and have the
potential to spark the most divisive Parliamentary discussions in
2008.

OTTAWA 00002251 002 OF 002


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