France calls for NATO Afghan pullout
Tue, 03 Mar 2009 08:12:16 GMT
There are currently more than 68,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.
French Defense Minister Herve Morin has requested that NATO set a timetable for the withdrawal of alliance forces from Afghanistan.
Delivering a speech at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in , Morin said Monday that although NATO forces should remain militarily engaged in war-torn Afghanistan as long as necessary, it should be known that they cannot stay in the country forever.
Morin urged NATO members to set specific timelines for achieving progress in Afghanistan's security and governance, warning that alliance commitment should not be unlimited.
He suggested that NATO gradually transfer responsibility for the security over to the Afghan people by strengthening their armed forces and police, AP reported.
France -- the fourth largest contingent after the United States, Britain and Germany -- has 2,800 soldiers in Afghanistan.
Morin's remarks come nearly a month after France confirmed having plans to cut the number of its troops deployed in missions abroad by about 20% to save as much as 150 million euros ($198m, £139m) per year.
Although claimed that its operations in Afghanistan would not be affected, the French mission in the war-ravaged country costs 300 million euros annually.
His remarks also coincide with recent Washington plans to send 17,000 additional US troops to bolster its 38,000-strong force already deployed in Afghanistan.
Afghan officials have also repeatedly called for the withdrawal of foreign troops. In August, Afghan lawmakers, who were against the presence of foreign forces in their country, called for a timetable for troops to pull out of Afghanistan in a letter to the UN Security Council.