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Digging trenches to digging mines; the new face of Canada's Afghan experience

KABUL - Canadians could go from digging trenches to helping dig gold and copper mines in Afghanistan if the Harper government has its way.

The country's ambassador to Kabul signalled this week the moribund Afghan economy will be a principal focus beyond this week's conclusion of the military mission.

Deborah Lyons, who took over as Canada's first woman ambassador to Afghanistan six months ago, says helping the Afghan economy develop is a way to fill Kabul's treasury.

The approach has the enthusiastic endorsement of Shamial Bantija, Afghanistan's ambassador-designate to Canada and a former economic adviser to President Hamid Karzai.

Bantija says he sees Canada as an important partner in developing the mining industry.

Reports from the Pentagon and U.S. geological experts say the country may hold up to $1 trillion in mineral wealth.

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