No extra troops to Afghanistan, says Sarkozy
France will not send "a single soldier more" to fight the bloody conflict in Afghanistan though troops already deployed as part of the NATO-led coalition will remain there, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a newspaper on Thursday.
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France will not send any more troops to Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with a French newspaper on Thursday.
"Is it necessary to stay in Afghanistan? I say 'yes'. And to stay to win ... But France will not send a single soldier more," Sarkozy told Le Figaro.
Sarkozy said he wants instead to see more home-grown Afghan troops fight the Taliban guerrillas.
"They will be the most effective in winning this war because it is their country. But we need to pay them more to avoid desertions that benefit the Taliban," said the French president.
France currently has 3,000 troops in the NATO-led coalition battling the Taliban and training Afghan security forces. So far, 36 French soldiers have been killed since 2001.
Sarkozy's comment came just after a call by NATO’s commander to send more troops to the restive southern region of Afghanistan.
“To really complete the ‘shape, clear, hold, build,’ we need at least two additional brigades of coalition forces, somewhere between 10,000 or 15,000 troops,” Major General Mart de Kruif, NATO’s commander in the region, told AFP in an interview on Thursday.
In order to clear other areas in the south, such as the Helmand province, “we absolutely need additional forces,” reiterated de Kruif.
Britain said on Wednesday it would send an additional 500 soldiers to Afghanistan, while President Barack Obama is mulling a request to send tens of thousands more US troops to the bloody conflict.
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