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France Planning to send more troops to Afghanistan

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http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/03/22/s...an.html?ref=rss

 

France to send 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, report says

Last Updated: Saturday, March 22, 2008 | 11:31 AM ET CommentsRecommendCBC News

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will tell British officials next week that his country will send 1,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in a move that will help bolster Canada's mission in the region, a British newspaper reported Saturday.

 

The Times of London said Sarkozy will discuss the troop deployment during a trip to Britain next week.

 

A senior British minister told the Times that France will send in "slightly more than 1,000 troops to the eastern region."

 

France already has 1,900 soldiers in Afghanistan.

 

"A formal announcement is expected when NATO leaders meet in Romania in early April," the CBC's David Common said Saturday from Paris. But, Common said, "there is an expectation that the French president may say something before then."

 

So far there has been no reaction in France to the Times story, Common said.

 

Canada has 2,500 troops participating in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, mostly around Kandahar province in the country's volatile south.

 

In February, a high-level delegation of Canadian officials travelled to Paris for talks on sending French troops to support Canadian forces.

 

The delegation was led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie.

 

Also in February, French Defence Minister Hervé Morin said he would be willing to have French troops stationed in the south.

 

The Times report said Sarkozy has not yet decided where the extra troops will be deployed. The newspaper said the troops could "be sent to the south to fight alongside the Canadians or east to the border with Pakistan."

 

Earlier this month, the House of Commons voted to keep Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan until 2011, but the mission's extension was contingent on NATO allies agreeing to provide 1,000 extra troops, and on Ottawa's securing access to unmanned surveillance drones and large helicopters.

 

Many Canadian soldiers are on their second tour in Afghanistan and the casualty count has been heavy — 81 soldiers have died since the mission began in 2002.

 

Last Sunday Defence Minister Peter MacKay said at a NATO summit in Brussels that Canada expects its NATO allies will soon offer 1,000 more soldiers to support the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan.

 

"Those 1,000 extra troops — that is really a minimum," MacKay told a conference of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where transatlantic security issues were debated.

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