Afghanistan 'a serious test' for NATO: Harper
The mission in insurgency-plagued Afghanistan is "a serious test" for the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said.
"Afghanistan is a serious test for NATO," Harper told The Wall Street Journal.
"NATO has taken on a United Nations mission and NATO must succeed or I do think the future of NATO as we've known it is in considerable doubt."
Harper said he was encouraged by US President Barack Obama's decision to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but that he "would encourage the administration to really assess what its objectives are and to make sure they are realistic and achievable."
The 26 members of the transatlantic alliance "have to get our act together... Or NATO will not be able to undertake these kinds of missions in the future," the prime minister said in the paper's online weekend edition.
Canada's mission in Afghanistan is to end in 2011 in accordance with a parliamentary resolution, and Harper's administration has since said it would respect that timeline.
Meanwhile, Harper, from the minority Conservative party, accused Russia of "aggression" in the Arctic, after it was revealed Friday that Canadian fighter jets intercepted a Russian heavy bomber skirting Canada's Arctic frontier hours before Obama visited Ottawa on February 19.