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Canada Weighs Future of Afghan Mission

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seeking recommendations on how to handle the military's mission in Afghanistan amid growing parliamentary opposition.

Mr. Harper Friday announced the formation of an independent panel to determine Canada's future role in Afghanistan.

The conservative leader appointed John Manley to chair the panel. Manley, who is a member of the Liberal Party, is a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

The panel has until January of 2008 to come up with recommendations on the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

Panelists will consider four different options, including continued training of Afghan forces, reconstruction, a pull-out of the bulk of Canada's troops by 2009, and shifting Canadian security to another region in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Harper is under pressure from opposition parties who want Canadian troops pulled out of Afghanistan.

Close to 2,500 Canadian troops are currently serving in Afghanistan, mainly in the restive southern Kandahar province, a Taleban stronghold. Since 2002, 71 soldiers have been killed in the war-torn nation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.