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Canadian troops may not head for Afghanistan

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CBC News

Canadian troops may not head for Afghanistan

Last Updated: Mon Nov 19 18:33:24 2001

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has indicated ground troops from Canada may not go into Afghanistan, after all.

In the House of Commons on Monday, Chrétien and Defence Minister Art Eggleton said last week's commitment to send 1,000 infantry troops to act as part of a stabilization force isn't definite.

Eggleton says the troops are ready, but no decision has been made to deploy them.

The prime minister was the first to indicate that members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry may not be sent to Afghanistan after all.

"We don't want to have a big fight there. We want to bring peace and happiness as much as possible," said Chrétien.

Opposition leader Stockwell Day accused Chrétien of failing to give Canadians a clear picture of what kind of ground troop involvement there will be. Day also appeared concerned that Canada not back out of any commitments made to the international coalition.

But Eggleton says Canadian troops may not be needed to secure the passage of humanitarian aid. "This is a very fluid situation, it's in a state of flux because of the quick retreat of the Taliban," he said.

On Tuesday, Eggleton travels to Washington to discuss the role for Canadian troops, if any, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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