05/31/2012 09:56 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT

Harper Thanked By U.S. Vice President Joe Biden For Afghanistan Military Funding


WASHINGTON - Joe Biden called Stephen Harper on Thursday to thank him for Canada's recent commitment to contribute funds to Afghan security forces, the vice-president's office said.

The call came in the wake of the recent NATO summit in Chicago, where the prime minister rejected a call from the alliance to extend Canada's current training mission in the war-torn country, insisting instead that Canadian troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of March 2014.

Harper did, however, pledge $330 million to support Afghan National Security Forces for three years starting in 2015 — the apparent subject of Biden's phone call.

U.S. President Barack Obama, meantime, also made some phone calls to world leaders this week. The president had a videoconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to discuss "developments in Europe."

"Leaders agreed to continue to consult closely as they prepare to meet at the G20 summit in Mexico next month," the White House said in a statement.

The call was a followup to the recent Group of Eight summit at Camp David and another conference of the European Union last week, the White House said.

Europe's debt crisis was the key topic of discussion at both summits, as Obama pushed Merkel to ease up on austerity measures.

Merkel had advocated increased austerity in the European Union. Obama, meantime, argued forcefully at Camp David that a one-size-fits-all austerity approach is too risky and that a pro-growth policy was the route to take.

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