France to withdraw some troops from Ivory Coast

22nd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, March 22, 2007 (AFP) - France will soon reduce its forces in the Ivory Coast to below 3,000 following a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel forces, a military official said Thursday.

ABIDJAN, March 22, 2007 (AFP) - France will soon reduce its forces in the Ivory Coast to below 3,000 following a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel forces, a military official said Thursday.

France currently has 3,500 troops in the country who have operated alongside United Nations forces to patrol a buffer zone dividing the rebel-controlled north and the government-led south.

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel head Guillaume Soro reached a peace deal earlier this month designed to lead to the formation of an interim government and elections.

Soro led a 2002 abortive coup against Gbagbo, triggering the brief civil war that divided the country into two zones.

The peace agreement also calls for the scaling down of both UN troops and French forces. The UN has some 7,000 troops in the Ivory Coast.

French Lieutenant Colonel Christian Rascle did not give specific numbers in his announcement, but said the withdrawal to below 3,000 troops should occur within a couple months.

The UN Security Council has extended the mandate for French forces in the Ivory Coast until June 30.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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