France to Send Special Force to Afghanistan for War on Terrorism

A top French Army official said Monday that France will send its special forces to Afghanistan soon to fight terrorism and will continue its commitment to the peacekeeping operation in the Afghan capital.

General Bernard Thorette, chief of general staff of the French Army, told reporters here that French special forces will be deployed in Afghanistan in next weeks as part of France's efforts to support stability in the post-war country.

French President Jacques Chirac promised US President George Bush earlier this month that France would send special forces to Afghanistan to fight alongside US troops in the war against terrorism.

Recalling that France has been involved in the anti-terror war in Afghanistan since its beginning in late 2001 when French special forces were deployed in northern Afghan city of Mazer-i-sharif, Thorette said his country will continue to support the peace and stability in the country.

Thorette, who arrived here Saturday on a three-day visit, earlier had held talks with officials of Afghan military authorities and the multi-nation peacekeeping International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

France currently contributes some 500 soldiers to the over 5,000-strong ISAF force which has been maintaining security and order in Kabul and surrounding areas since December 2001 under a United Nations mandate.

France is also helping train the fledgling new Afghan National Army together with the United States, Thorette said.

However, so far France has no troops in the over 115,000 US-led coalition troops deployed across the country to hunt down remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda network.

The French Army chief reaffirmed France's commitment to the ISAF mission after NATO takes over command of the peacekeeping force in August. France is not a member of NATO's military integration mechanism.

Thorette also told reporters that France would not join a program initiated by the United States to send civil-military teamto Afghan provinces to strengthen security and help local reconstruction efforts.

Britain, Germany and New Zealand have agreed to join the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) program, after the United States sent four such teams to remote Afghan areas and invited its allies to follow suit.

Thorette said that it is not France's official position in Afghanistan to send its civil-military teams to others parts of the country except the capital city.

People's Daily Online ---