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Taliban cannot be put down by force: Canada

Defence Minister David OConnor added that Canada would stand by its commitment to keep troops in Afghanistan.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2006 11:57 IST

Taliban cannot be completely defeated by use of force, but the world must ensure that the group does not threaten other areas, Canadian defence minister David OConnor has said.

"We cannot eliminate the Taliban, not militarily anyway. We have got to get them back to some sort of acceptable level, so they don't threaten other areas," he told an Australian news agency.

Confirming his comments, Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier has said on Thursday that he had no disagreement with his minister's statement who is now in Australia on a State visit.

"That has never been the strategy...To defeat them militarily," Hillier was quoted as saying by Toronto Star.

At least 16 Canadian soldiers have died in combat in the past three months after NATO took over Southern Afghanistan from US forces. A total of 28 Canadian soldiers have died so far in Afghanistan.

Opinion polls show Canadians are divided over the mission in Afghanistan, with the minority left-leaning New Democrats calling for troops to be withdrawn by February.

But OConnor said Canada would stand by its commitment to keep troops in Afghanistan until February, 2009, saying it was crucial for Canada to play a role in the modern world.

However he made it clear that the country would not contribute more troops, and said: We have more than met our commitment.

First Published: Sep 09, 2006 11:56 IST