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France offers troops for Afghanistan
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday formally offered to send about 800 troops to Afghanistan, breaking a months-old deadlock of the alliance, said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.

"I can confirm that the French government has offered a substantial military contribution to the operations in Afghanistan," the spokesman told reporters after a dinner of the NATO leaders.

The deployment will be battalion-strong and will be in the east, he said.

The United States, building on the French offer, has agreed to offer troops to the south of Afghanistan.

The troops and equipment pledged have satisfied Canada's demand for help from an ally, said Appathurai.

Canada, with 2,500 troops fighting in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, had threatened to pull out its troops after their mandate expires in early 2009 unless other allies provide additional troops and resources.

With the conditions met, the mandate of the Canadian troops can now be extended till 2011, he said.

The spokesman said a number of other countries have also indicated their willingness to increase their contributions to Afghanistan. Details of their offers will be discussed on Thursday 's high-level meeting on Afghanistan, which will bring NATO allies and 14 non-NATO troops contributing countries as well as other big players.

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