France to Withdraw a Quarter of Troops from Afghanistan
Kabul (Tolo News): French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to see French troops and meet Afghan officials.
While visiting French troops President Nicolas Sarkozy said that France would withdraw a quarter of its 4,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
Mr Sarkozy on Tuesday appeared at a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
\”It’s necessary to end the war. There was never a question of keeping troops in Afghanistan indefinitely,\” French President told reporters. \”We will withdraw a quarter of our troops, that’s to say 1,000 men, by the end of 2012.\”
This is Mr Sarkozy’s third visit to Afghanistan since he took office.
His last visits to the country took place in December 2007 and August 2008 when Taliban militants killed 10 French troops.
France has around 4,000 troops mostly stationed in eastern Kabul district Surobi and in northeastern Kapisa province.
France has lost 64 soldiers in the Afghan violence since it joined the Nato-led mission in the country.
At a European Union summit President Sarkozy had said that several hundred French soldiers would return home in line with the decision taken by the US President Barack Obama.
President Sarkozy’s office had also earlier said that there would be a progressive drawdown of 40,000 French troops in a proportional manner in a similar time frame as US surge troops withdrawal.
US President Barack Obama has decided to pull out 33,000 US surge troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
The first phase of security handover to Afghan lead is to start this month amid concerns that Afghan security forces may not yet be able to shoulder the burden on their own.