Sarkozy pays surprise visit to Afghanistan, troops exit on agenda

08:43, July 13, 2011      

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Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) speaks as his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy watches during a news conference after Karzai's brother was shot killed in Kandahar province, at the presidential palace in Kabul July 12, 2011. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, confirming the withdrawal of 1,000 troops from the country by the end of 2012.

"The president is currently visiting Afghanistan, his visit to the Hospital d'Instruction des Armees de Percy at the bedside of wounded soldiers in Afghanistan scheduled this morning was postponed to Thursday, July 14, 2011 before the military parade," the Elysee said in a statement.

Local media reported that Sarkosy unveiled during his visit the withdrawal of 1,000 soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of next year

"... We will pull out a quarter of total contingent by the end of 2012 which means 1,000 soldiers. Our remaining troop will be concentrated at Kapisa," the president said.

"Following developments on the ground, the withdrawal will be subject of consultation with the Afghan authorities and our allies ... The objective ... is to withdraw all the troops at the end of the transition period scheduled in 2014," he added.

About 4,000 French soldiers were deployed in Afghan territories as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help local authorities to restore security and crack down Taliban insurgents.

Since 2001, 64 French soldiers have been killed in the central Asian country.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
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