PARIS (Reuters) - France has no plans to raise troop levels in Afghanistan and believes that countries should put more emphasis on aid as a way of helping the nation, French Defense Minister Herve Morin said Monday.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will send about 30,000 more troops to fight the Taliban and train Afghans so that foreign forces can eventually be withdrawn.
“France considers that it has made an extremely big effort and that there is no question for now of raising numbers,” Morin told reporters.
“The solution cannot only be military in nature, it cannot only be about raising (military) numbers, it should also be simultaneously about raising the funds made available for boosting the construction of Afghanistan,” he said.
Obama was briefing European and other leaders and had a 40-minute telephone conversation Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on issues including Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East peace process, according to a statement issued by Sarkozy’s office.
There are about 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, anchored by a 68,000-strong American force. While army chiefs have called for more soldiers, waning public support in Europe and the United States has made meeting such demands difficult.
Sarkozy said Monday that France would keep its 3,400 troops in Afghanistan for as long as necessary but did not mention the possibility of sending more.
“We are not going to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely,” he said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Writing by Tamora Vidaillet; editing by Tim Pearce