Sarkozy: French Troops to Resume Training in Afghanistan

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy says French troops will resume training operations in Afghanistan, after a week-long suspension due to the killing of four French military personnel by an Afghan soldier.

Mr. Sarkozy, however, said French troops will complete their withdrawal from the NATO-led mission at the end of 2013, a year earlier than planned.

He made his remarks after meeting Friday in Paris with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The French president also said France will transfer security to the Afghans in March in the eastern province of Kapisa, where nearly all French troops are based and where last week's killing of the four unarmed soldiers took place.

Mr. Karzai said Afghanistan is ready to take on more responsibility, after receiving help from France and other countries during the past decade.

The two leaders also signed a strategic agreement outlining France's role in Afghanistan after all combat troops pull out from the country.

Earlier this week, France ruled out a total withdrawal of French troops this year, despite Mr. Sarkozy's warning that he would consider an early pullout if security measures in Afghanistan for French troops do not improve.

Eighty-two French troops have died 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.

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