Britain, Germany, France All Plan Afghan Troop Withdrawals

Posted June 23rd, 2011 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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Britain, Germany and France all say they plan to follow the U.S. lead and withdraw their troops from the Afghan warfront.

The three European allies on Thursday quickly announced the eventual end of their involvement in fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan after U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday night spelled out his plan to withdraw 33,000 of the 100,000 American troops over the next 14 months. The three allies have much smaller contingents in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.- and NATO-led operation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Mr. Obama before his televised address and confirmed that, like the U.S., Britain would end its military role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving Afghans responsible for their own security. Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, the second biggest total.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country plans to start to reduce its contingent of 5,000 armed forces by the end of this year. German involvement in the Afghan war is deeply unpopular on the homefront, with 52 German soldiers killed since Germany joined the effort in January 2002.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country's troops would be withdrawn on roughly the same proportion and schedule as that of the U.S. France has 4,000 troops in Afghanistan and 62 of its troops have been killed.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also welcomed President Obama's announcement, calling it the “natural result” of the progress the alliance has made there. He stressed Mr. Obama's decision was made in close consultation with NATO allies.