Karzai Meets Sarkozy After France Threatens Afghan Withdrawal

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday, a week after the French leader threatened to pull his troops out of Afghanistan early.

During talks in Paris, President Karzai is expected to sign a long-term strategic agreement outlining France's role in Afghanistan after all international troops leave the war-torn country in 2014.

Earlier this week, France's foreign minister ruled out a total withdrawal of French troops this year, despite threats by Mr. Sarkozy that he would consider an early pullout if security measures in Afghanistan for the French troops are not improved.

President Sarkozy suspended his country's training and support operations in Afghanistan, after an Afghan soldier killed four unarmed French troops in eastern Afghanistan last week.

A recent survey says 84 percent of the French population is in favor of the troops leaving Afghanistan by the end of the 2012.

Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, who analysts say has a good chance of beating Mr. Sarkozy in the upcoming election, has pledged to bring the troops back home by the end of the year, if he wins.

A total of 82 French troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

President Karzai's stop in Paris is part of a three-nation European tour. He flies to London later Friday for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

On Thursday, the Afghan leader met with Italian Prime Minster Mario Monti who assured Mr. Karzai that Italy “will not abandon Afghanistan.” The two leaders signed a long-term agreement in Rome calling for Italy to assist Afghanistan in political, security , economic and counter-narcotics issues past 2014.

President Karzai met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday.