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OTTAWA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The situation in Afghanistan seems to be getting worse and a solution will require more than just military force, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday.
"There are a lot of concerns about a conflict that has lasted quite a long time now and actually appears to be deteriorating at this point," he told CBC television in an interview ahead of his visit to Canada on Thursday.
Obama voiced appreciation for Canada's military engagement in Afghanistan and gave no hint that he would ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend the combat mission there beyond the mid-2011 date agreed by Parliament.
"Very soon we will be releasing some initial plans in terms of how we are going to approach the military side of the equation in Afghanistan," he said.
"But I'm absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region, solely through military means," he added.
"We're going to have use diplomacy, we're going to have to use development, and my hope is that in conversations that I have with Prime Minister Harper that he and I end up seeing the importance of a comprehensive strategy." (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty)