France will not send any more troops to Afghanistan and wants instead to see an enlarged Afghan army, President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a newspaper interview released yesterday.
The US is considering sending up to 40 000 additional troops to Afghanistan and has urged its NATO allies to bolster their forces to tackle the Taliban.
Britain announced this week that it was ready to send 500 more troops but Sarkozy told Le Figaro daily that he was sticking to a long-standing pledge not to send more forces.
“Is it necessary to stay in Afghanistan? I say ‘yes’. And to stay to win. If we leave, Pakistan, a nuclear power, will be threatened. But France will not send one more soldier,” Sarkozy said.
“My conviction is that there must be more Afghan soldiers. They will be the best at winning this war, because it’s their country,” he said, adding that better pay was needed to prevent desertions to the Taliban.
Western resolve has been tested by mounting casualties in Afghanistan, where insurgent violence has reached its highest level since the Taliban was ousted from power in late 2001.
More than 40 countries have sent forces to the war under the NATO banner, with Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Poland the largest European contributors, providing 21 000 troops together.
France itself has slightly more than 3000 soldiers there.
US troop levels have already risen by thousands and are supposed to rise to a projected 68 000 by the end of this year.
Pic: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France