21 Oct 2012

French to leave Afghanistan early

9:43 am on 21 October 2012

French combat troops could be withdrawn from Afghanistan before the end of December, more quickly than anticipated, according to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"I think even that it will happen a bit more quickly than anticipated," he said on BFM TV on Saturday during a visit to Kabul to meet President Hamid Karzai.

"We have said by the end of December (2012) but I think that it can happen a bit earlier," he said.

Mr Fabius added that some troops will still remain, responsible mainly for repatriating equipment and training of the Afghan army.

"But there will be no more combat troops," he stressed.

AAP reports France has lost 88 soldiers in Afghanistan and currently has around 2550 troops compared with 4000 a year ago.

"The troops cannot stay forever in Afghanistan. It is not possible for a country to ensure its security from outside. The Afghans must take over," Mr Fabius said