US wants France to send combat troops to Afghanistan
United States said it would like France to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan without saying it would make an explicit request
WASHINGTON, February 1, 2008 - The United States said Thursday it would
like France to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan without saying it
would make an explicit request to French Defense Minister Herve Morin.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack did not say exactly what kind of
help Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expected from her meeting in
Washington with Morin later Thursday.
But he recalled that Canada had offered to keep its troops in volatile
southern Afghanistan beyond 2009 if it received reinforcements, helicopters
"There is still a need for about a thousand (troops) down there in the
south and we are going to encourage everybody to take a look at what they
might do," McCormack said.
"I know that that request is out there from the Canadians and any requests
for more combat troops down in the south are not limited to France. That is a
request that goes to all our NATO allies," he said.
Morin began his visit to Washington late Wednesday.
He is building on the visit made here last November by France's new
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who received a warm US welcome and eased tensions
over French opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Sources close to Morin list several possibilities for Afghanistan: a
redeployment of French troops who are currently in Kabul; the dispatch of more
instructors for Afghan security forces; the return of French special forces to
Afghanistan: or even a substantial increase in the total French deployment.