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French envoy reveals policy shift in Afghanistan

Video by Claire BILLET

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-25

Pierre Lellouche (left), France’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) in Kabul, where he revealed a policy shift toward trying to negotiate with the Taliban.

During his four-day visit to Afghanistan this week, France’s newly appointed special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan revealed France’s new strategy in the war-torn nation, echoing Washington’s policy shift toward trying to negotiate with the Taliban.

Pierre Lellouche, a French parliamentarian and international-affairs expert who was appointed to the post earlier this month, met with President Hamid Karzai in the Afghan capital of Kabul this week.

Speaking to reporters, Lellouche called for a holistic approach to the current crisis in Afghanistan.

“I believe the Afghan president wants to reach an agreement with some of the insurgents, the ones that respect the Constitution and democratic debate,” said Lellouche. “The solution lies in reconciliation, not only with the military. The military is here to restore security, and from there we can come up with a development plan that works.”

France increases its aid budget to Afghanistan

Lellouche also pledged to expand France’s national reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, especially in the capital Kabul and Kapisa province north-east of Kabul, where most of the French troops are based.

“The international community is taking care of negotiations, but there's also a local aspect, which consists in getting started with the development of the country,” said Lellouche. “France has decided to help financially and to contribute to parts of the development in Afghanistan.”

Reiterating France's commitment to Afghanistan, Lellouche announced that Paris plans to quadruple the amount of aid to Afghanistan to bring it 40 million euros.

Most of the 40 million euros in development aid will be spent in areas covered by French troops.

While in Afghanistan, Lellouche also visited the restive Sarobi district in the Kapisa province where 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 others injured in an ambush last August.

Date created : 2009-03-25