France may send more troops to Afghanistan

PARIS, April 1 (UPI) -- France may increase its forces in Afghanistan if other NATO countries also send more troops, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told Parliament.

Fillon set two other conditions, the BBC reported. They include more reconstruction in the Kabul area and a shorter timetable for the Afghan government taking responsibility for its own security, with Kabul in the hands of the Afghan army and police by summer 2009.


France has 1,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, part of a total NATO force of 43,000.

"Our armed forces in Afghanistan may invest more in the command structures, particularly in Kabul, in training the Afghan army and in the units in the Afghan provinces," Fillon said. "The numbers could be something like a few hundred extra soldiers."

The Socialists forced a debate in the National Assembly on the French commitment to Afghanistan. A poll released Monday found that 68 percent of French citizens oppose increasing the number of troops there, the BBC said.

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