France Denies Sending More Troops to Afghanistan

Posted by on Feb 9th, 2010 and filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

PUBLIC support for the war in France has eroded, and a series of French battlefield deaths has made it more difficult for France to commit any additional forces.

France has decided to send only 80 more trainers to Afghanistan and held out hope President Nicolas Sarkozy would be able to do more later.

France was the only country to make a firm new pledge on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Istanbul last week. But its offer of 80 French instructors was far fewer than the hundreds that Washington had hoped for

A senior U.S. defence official travelling with Gates said Washington held out hope that France would increase the number of trainers beyond 80.

“This is not a static number, and as time goes on, people will be able to re-evaluate and contribute more,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Gates was “not dissatisfied in any way” with the French offer of more troops for training, the official added.

With about 3,750 troops in the region, France is the fourth biggest contributor to the war in Afghanistan, after the United States, Britain and Germany.

Sarkozy, who was to meet Gates later on Monday, has publicly ruled out deploying more combat troops to Afghanistan but has said he would be open to sending more trainers.

Gates’s appeal to NATO allies for thousands of additional trainers and mentors has taken on new urgency since December, when President Barack Obama announced he was deploying 30,000 more U.S. troops with the goal of beginning to pull them out in July 2011, provided the Afghans can fill the security void.

Gates said allies had promised to send almost 10,000 extra troops but some analysts say that figure includes many troops sent last year to help secure presidential elections. Training Afghanistan’s army and police was a top priority, he said.

NATO leaders say new training teams are urgently needed if Afghanistan’s security forces are to grow to a target of 300,000 personnel in 2011.

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