Karzai pleads with Canadians not to desert Afghanistan

OTTAWA (AFP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that his country would fall into bloody chaos if foreign troops withdraw too quickly, in an interview with Canadian media.”Afghanistan will fall back into anarchy,” he told the daily Globe and Mail, fearing a withdrawal of Canadian troops in February 2009, their current mandate.

“Anarchy will bring back safe havens to terrorists, among other things, and terrorists will then hurt you back there in Canada and the United States. Simple as that,” he said.

“The presence of Canada is needed until Afghanistan is able to defend itself, and that day is not going to be in 2009.”

Fierce debate is raging in Canada and other NATO countries about whether to extend the US-led mission to stabilize the country amid an insurgency following the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Canada has 2,500 soldiers deployed in volatile Kandahar province in the south. Seventy Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2002, including 26 this year.

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