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UPDATED: 08:57, April 28, 2007
France sees no long-term military role in Afghanistan: foreign minister
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France has no intention of playing a long-term military role in Afghanistan, French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Friday.

"We have no vocation to stay, occupying a country in the long term," the minister said while speaking on the Europe 1 radio.

"Moreover it is against France's values of respecting sovereignty, national independence and territorial integrity," Douste-Blazy added.

During a press briefing held later, foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei reaffirmed that French soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are serving under a UN mandate, but in the long-term they have no vocation to remain there permanently.

France was making this declaration at a time when two French humanitarian workers, who were kidnapped beginning April, are still being held by the Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

In a statement issued on April 20, the Taliban gave France a one-week ultimatum to withdraw its troops serving in Afghanistan, failure to which the two workers will be executed.

The French troops are part of a 35,000-strong NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, which took over command of a war against the Taliban from U.S.-led forces last year.

Source: Xinhua

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