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France not to withdraw forces from Afghanistan

(Xinhua)

10:09, January 25, 2012

PARIS, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday French soldiers will not quit the restless Afghan territories this year despite rising calls for an immediate withdrawal, after the killing of four French servicemen by a presumed Afghan soldier.

"We must not panic and confuse between an orderly withdrawal and a hasty retreat," Juppe told the National Assembly.

"When I hear of immediate withdrawal, even at the end of 2012, I'm not sure this has been carefully considered and studied," the minister said.

"There are military conditions to respect in order to guarantee the safety of our soldiers ...which is our responsibility," he added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday said he would consider an early withdrawal of national troops from Afghanistan if their safety were at risk.

Since 2001, 82 French soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan.

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

France planned to bring home aa French soldiers by 2014. A quarter of the troops were expected to return to France by the end of 2012.

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