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Military

French Troops to Resume Training in Afghanistan

VOA News January 27, 2012

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.

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

He 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. Sarkozy made his remarks after meeting Friday in Paris with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two leaders 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 a threat by Mr. Sarkozy that he would consider an early pullout if security measures in Afghanistan for French troops are not improved.

Mr. Sarkozy's threat followed the killing of the four unarmed French troops last week in eastern Afghanistan.

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.

French 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 French troops back home by the end of the year if he wins.

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

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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