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France to deploy new Afghanistan force by August

PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) - France will deploy the additional battalion of troops it has promised to send to Afghanistan before the end of August, Defence Minister Herve Morin said on Sunday.

“They will leave this summer, in July-August,” Morin told Europe 1 radio.

President Nicolas Sarkozy promised earlier this month to send a battalion of around 700 soldiers to eastern Afghanistan, allowing U.S. troops there to be sent to reinforce a 2,500-strong Canadian contingent in the south.

France currently has around 1,500 troops in Afghanistan as part of a 2,200-strong contingent serving in the region with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom. (Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle)