Friday, April 27, 2007

One more NATO casualty in Afghanistan: France. Who will be the last one standing?

France does not plan to keep troops in Afghanistan: FM

France does not plan to stay in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Friday, hours before a deadline for a pullout of French troops in exchange for the release of two hostages.
"There is no plan to continue occupying a country in the long term," said Douste-Blazy. "It goes against France's values of respect for sovereignty, national independence and territorial integrity."

France has contributed 1,000 men to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, as well as Rafale fighter jets in support of the international force battling a Taliban insurrection.

Taliban militants are holding two aid workers for the French nongovernment organisation Terre d'Enfance (A World For Our Children), who went missing on April 3 with three of their Afghan staff.

On April 20 the Taliban demanded the pullout of French troops within a week in exchange for their release.

Unless its demands are met, the Taliban, which has beheaded several of its captives, said "the position of Islamic Emirate (the Taliban) about foreign prisoners... (will) soon be applied."

"We are doing everything in Kabul and Paris to being them home soon," Douste-Blazy said, adding that he had "taken note" of a Taliban statement on Thursday saying the hostages were in good health.

Original article posted here.

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