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French Troops To Restart Military Operations In Afghanistan


French President Nicolas Sarkozy (right) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai shake hands at a news conference after talks and a treaty signing at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 27.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said France will resume its training mission in Afghanistan.

Sarkozy, speaking at a news conference in Paris after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also said French troops would return from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, as initially scheduled.

France abruptly suspended France's training missions and threatened to pull French troops out of Afghanistan sooner following the shooting death of four unarmed French troops by an Afghan soldier on January 20.

Sarkozy also said he agreed with Karzai to ask NATO to hand over all combat missions in Afghanistan to Afghan troops in 2013 -- a year earlier than planned.

"We have decided, in full agreement with President Karzai, to ask NATO to consider a complete transfer of NATO's combat missions to the Afghan Army over the course of 2013," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy added that France has informed U.S. President Barack Obama of the proposal and will present it at a meeting of NATO defense ministers early next month.

Karzai expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people to France for its efforts.

"The Afghan people, while expressing their condolences and regret, are grateful to the people of France for the years of very strong support given to Afghanistan," Karzai said.

Karzai is touring Europe, stopping first in Italy on January 26 to meet with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

On January 26, Germany's parliament voted to extend the mandate for German forces in Afghanistan by one year but also approved cutting the number of German soldiers in Afghanistan from the current 5,350 to 4,900 as of February 1.

compiled from agency reports

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