No Additional French Troops for Afghanistan
The French Defense Minister has ruled out sending additional French troops to Afghanistan:
PARIS (AP) — France’s defense minister is ruling out for now increasing the country’s military presence in Afghanistan.
Herve Morin told France-Inter radio Sunday that France has “already made a considerable effort” toward stabilizing the troubled country. He said “there’s no question for the moment of sending additional troops.”
U.S. President Barack Obama has urged allies to send reinforcements to Afghanistan. The U.S. is expected to deploy up to 30,000 more American troops there this year.
Recent announcements of reductions of the numbers of French troops in countries like Ivory Coast and Chad had fueled speculation that France intended to redeploy those soldiers to Afghanistan. France currently has 3,300 troops in the Afghan theater.
I’m having a little difficulty reconciling that with this:
MUNICH (AP) — NATO’s top official chastised Germany and France for refusing to commit more troops to Afghanistan, but the two European powers skirted the issue Saturday even while agreeing that Washington should not be left to fight international conflicts alone.
Vice President Joe Biden came to the Munich Security Conference amid expectations he would forcefully repeat President Barack Obama’s calls for greater European troop deployments in Afghanistan, as Washington prepares to double American troops there to roughly 60,000.
MUNICH: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and top NATO officials will begin a diplomatic effort this month to persuade lawmakers in Paris to accept Sarkozy’s plans to return France to full membership in NATO military command structures in time for the alliance’s summit meeting in April.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO secretary general, will address the foreign affairs and defense committee of the National Assembly on Thursday, and Sarkozy is due to give a major speech on NATO to legislators on Feb. 20.
In Washington and Brussels, the United States is finalizing details over which command posts France will be offered when and if Sarkozy wins parliamentary approval for a policy shift that has prompted unexpected political opposition.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Sarkozy was uncharacteristically cautious about announcing when and how France would join.
“My conviction is that France should improve its links with NATO, by being an independent ally, a free partner of the United States,” Sarkozy told the 350 delegates. “The alliance with the United States and the alliance with Europe do not call the independence of my country into question, it strengthens its independence. This is something I am going to explain to the French people.”
He might start by explaining it to his ministers.