Thursday, November 22, 2007

Afghanistan snubs Canada on Iran vote

Afghanistan snubs Canada on Iran vote
Afghanistan effectively snubbed Canada in United Nations votes affecting a Canadian-led censure of Iran's human rights record.

Canada had been desperate for support in the measure to avoid international embarrassment, and Iran came within two votes of defeating it in an initial round.

Afghanistan supported an Iranian bid to have the Canadian-led censure thrown out, then voted against Canada's actual censure -- both against Canada's hopes. Oneinterpretation of Afghanistan's move will be that the government of President Hamid Karzai cares more about its relations with Iran than with Canada -- despite Canada's massive commitment to Afghan reconstruction, and cost in Canadian lives.
The matter arises as debate unfolds in Canada about whether the current mandate for Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan should be extended beyond 2009.

In addition to pledges to spend $1.2-billion on rebuilding Afghanistan through 2011, Canada has lost 73 soldiers and one diplomat in the country over the past five years.

There was no immediate response from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Ottawa.
Focused on countries beyond the advanced democracies, Iran launched an aggressive campaign to win support for tossing out the Canadian-initiative.

As the fall UN summit approached, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a 70-page booklet claiming Canada's human rights record was itself highly questionable.

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