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Alain Juppe

Press TV / February 9, 2011

France has decided not to send additional troops to Afghanistan in 2011 as US-led soldiers struggle to rein in the nine-year-old war in the country.

“We have “…….”   around 4,000 soldiers in the field and we do not intend to increase that,” AFP quoted French Defense Minister Alain Juppe as saying during his meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington on Tuesday.

Juppe, however, noted that France will continue to redeploy some of its troops from around Sarobi — located between Kabul and Jalalabad in Kabul Province — in order to pave the way for handing over the security missions to Afghan forces.

The French minister further expounded on his country’s contribution to the war in Afghanistan.

“This is already a considerable effort by France because we have been in Afghanistan from the beginning” of the US-led occupation of the war-wracked country in 2001.

Asked about France’s response in case the US requests additional troops, Juppe replied, “I stated clearly that we do not have that capacity.”

He made the remarks at a time when the number of attacks on US-led forces in Afghanistan has significantly increased over the past months amid growing public outcry over the increase in the number of civilian casualties as a result of ongoing NATO offensives in the Asian country.

In 2010, as many as 711 foreign troops, including 53 French soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan — an average of two a day — which is by far greater than the annual toll of 521 during 2009.

The Afghan interior ministry recently said that last year saw an increase in the number of civilian deaths since the US-led invasion.

The ministry stated that more than 2,000 civilians lost their lives in violence across Afghanistan, making 2010 the deadliest year ever for civilian casualties in war-hit country.

On Jan 6, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered an extra 1,400 Marines to southern Afghanistan in an attempt to fend off Taliban militants returning from neighboring Pakistan.

The surge comes despite an earlier promise by US President Barack Obama to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan by July 2011.