France states need for long-term Afghan support

1st January 2012, Comments 0 comments

The international community must provide long-term financial support for Afghanistan after NATO-led forces leave the country in 2014, French defence minister Gerard Longuet said Sunday.

At the end of a two-day visit to the war-wracked country, Longuet told reporters at Kabul airport that a "treaty of friendship" was being prepared between France and Afghanistan.

"What is important is to have sustainable bilateral relations with Afghanistan," he said, adding that a visit to Paris by Afghan President Hamid Karzai was being planned.

He said the international coalition in Afghanistan should use a meeting in Chicago in the United States in May to take decisions to "bring sustainable financial support" to the country.

Karzai says Afghanistan will need the support of other countries for at least another decade beyond the 2014 departure of foreign combat troops.

But the international community says in return there must be clear progress on good governance, social development and the fight against corruption.

On Saturday after Longuet met Karzai for talks on the bilateral treaty, the president's office issued a statement saying it was due to be signed by late January.

Afghanistan is also negotiating strategic partnership deals with other countries, most importantly with the US, which will govern its relationships post 2014.

There are about 130,000 international troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan fighting alongside government troops against a Taliban-led insurgency.

All foreign combat troops are due to withdraw by the end of 2014 and are in the process of handing responsibility for security over to Afghan forces.

By the end of this year, 75 percent of the population should be under the authority of Afghan forces, Longuet said.

The 3,600-member French force in Afghanistan will be reduced to 3,000 by late 2012.

© 2012 AFP

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