France announces Afghan troop withdrawal, 'similar' to US
France will carry out a progressive pullback of its forces in Afghanistan, with a timetable similar to that announced by for US troops, the president's office said Thursday.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement that NATO member France would make a "progressive" withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan "in a proportional manner and in a timeframe similar to the pullback of the American reinforcements."
The statement came after US President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered all 33,000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by next summer and declared the beginning of the end of the war, saying the withdrawal would begin this July.
Before making his speech Obama had a telephone conversation Wednesday with Sarkozy "to discuss with him our common commitment to Afghanistan," the Elysee Palace statement said.
The French president "stressed that France shared the American analysis and objectives and that it was happy with President Obama's decision."
Following his talk with Obama, Sarkozy "confirmed that France will remain fully committed with its allies beside the Afghan people to achieve the process of transition," the statement said.
"Taking into account the progress achieved, it will carry out a progressive pullback of reinforcements sent to Afghanistan, in a proportional manner and in a timeframe similar to the pullback of the American reinforcements. This withdrawal will be carried out in concertation with our allies and the Afghan authorities."
Four thousand French troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan.
© 2011 AFP