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France to Withdraw Special Forces from Afghanistan
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Visiting French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Sunday that her country would withdraw the 200-strong French special forces from Afghanistan soon, media reports said.

France would withdraw the special forces, which are stationed in the eastern Nangahar province as part of the US-led coalition troops, from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, the reports said.

Seven members of the French special force were killed in action and a dozen others were wounded since their deployment to Afghanistan after the US-led Afghan War in late 2001.

However, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told Xinhua that during a closed-door meeting with her Afghan counterpart Abdul Rahim Wardak, Alliot-Marie only said France would withdraw some troops from eastern Afghanistan, and no deadline has been set yet.

Meanwhile, Coalition spokesman Marcelo Carelo told Xinhua that it was too early to comment on any final outcome of the possible French withdrawal.

He also said: "The Coalition's commitment to engage in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan remains unaffected by the possible redeployment of forces."

Alliot-Marie started a three-day visit to Afghanistan from Saturday, during which she also had met President Hamid Karzai.

About 10,000 coalition troops, the bulk of which are Americans, are mainly stationed in eastern Afghanistan to hunt down militants.

France has also deployed about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the 32,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2006)


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