France to have 3,000 troops in Afghanistan

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French troops operating in Afghanistan will number about 3,000, France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on a visit to the central Asian state of Tajikistan.

“I cannot give you an exact figure, because the military must make their own decision, but I can tell you that about 3,000 French troops will be placed in Afghanistan,” Kouchner said, speaking through an interpreter.

“This is the will of our president and his decision was not spontaneous. He sent a letter to all coalition members to inform them about it.”

President Nicolas Sarkozy announced this month France would dispatch up to 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. If the total contingent is to reach 3,000, that could indicate Paris is sending more new troops than initially thought.

Kouchner, speaking in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, did not give a timeframe for the deployment of the troops or say what role they would have in Afghanistan.

France already has about 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, where they are part of a NATO coalition fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda. (Reuters)

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