January 29th, 2010
11:50 AM ET

French minister: No more combat troops to Afghanistan

France will not send any more combat troops to Afghanistan, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told CNN Thursday, reinforcing his country's opposition to joining the U.S.-led surge there. Kouchner, speaking with CNN's Christiane Amanpour from the one-day meeting on Afghanistan that drew representatives from more than 60 countries and organizations to London, said, "No more fighters. We are in charge. We don't want to send more troops to fight."

But Kouchner did not rule out the possibility of sending more trainers for the Afghan army and police. France currently has about 3,500 troops in Afghanistan, just over a third the number that Britain has deployed there.

The United States is sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, and NATO and other partners have promised at least 7,000 more reinforcements as part of President Barack Obama's new strategy to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban.

Answering a question about the strategy of the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Kouchner said, "With all due respect, he's a military man ... We are concerned by the position of the Afghan people and the government, the legitimate government of Afghanistan."

Kouchner said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was adopting a very different tone toward the Taliban, by offering them an opportunity for reintegration and reconciliation in Afghanistan followed by a peace council, with the support of a $500 million "pay-for-peace" plan.

But he criticized Karzai's assertion that international troops will have to stay in Afghanistan for another 10 to 15 years.

Kouchner pointed to the fact Obama has said American troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2011.

"We don't have to accept such a long period of battle," Kouchner added. "We want to change the country and to fight against poverty and fight in favor of development."

The Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, also in London, said it's possible that Karzai's reconciliation plan will work

"They (the Taliban) are losing momentum and if you draw people out towards a reconciliation process, this will break the momentum further."

Qureshi told Amanpour there will always be an element of the Taliban that will refuse to negotiate. "But there is an opinion that, by and large, the rank-and-file - they've been in this conflict zone for over three decades - want a normal life. If you can provide them with an alternative, I think many of them would want to engage."

Qureshi said Pakistan is willing to play a role in trying to lure the Taliban into the peace process and show them an alternative way, despite decades of mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad.

"It's going to be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process," he said. "We are willing to help if the Afghans want us to help."

Asked if the U.S.-led surge in Afghanistan will be effective, Qureshi said, "All we are asking for is that the surge and the deployment in Afghanistan should be coordinated with the military leadership of Pakistan so that it does not become counterproductive, so that we do not have negative fallout on Pakistan."

Qureshi also acknowledged that U.S. drone strikes on suspected Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Pakistan are having an effect.

"The drones certainly have been able to take out some high-value targets, yes. You've got to admit that," he said.

But he said Pakistan wanted to have access to drone technology from the U.S. because the Pakistani parliament, media, and people feel it's important for Islamabad to determine how to use them, when to use them, and who to use them against.

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Troops
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. JLP


    February 27, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Frankie

    Suprise Suprise Suprise... the French want out! If it was their country on 9/11 ,don't think for a moment that they wouldn't expect the US to come forward and help them. I'm so sick of their whining. Why is it that the US is always expected to do the dirty work? Why can't someone else stand up and say... we want to do what's right... let us go first.... hell no. Everyone expects America to take the hardest hit. And that's what we're doing. Thank you to all those that are currently serving and that have served. You're truly appreciated. Come home safe!

    February 10, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ricardo Stone

    You have got to be kidding me...did Karl Lagerfeld design the clips, knuckle and elbow guards? I bet they have some really sexy g-string style kevlar groin cups too...way cool mon freres...

    January 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J.B. Bagram, Afghanistan

    I am a U.S. Army officer currently serving in Afghanistan. I work very closely with our French partners here in Afghanistan and on several occassions we have conducted combat patrols that have resulted in French soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice for the stability and security of the Afghan people. Do not for a moment think that our brothers in Arms are cowards. They fight ferociously and with honor. Put your politics aside... and, if you really want to see the contributions the French are making here in Afghanistan... get off of the couch, raise your right hand, put on a uniform and join us (the entire coalition... to include the brave soldiers of the Afghan Army) and see for yourself. Make no mistake; we are here to provide security and stability to this region so we do not have to suffer through another massive cowardly terrorist attack in the U.S. So America can continue to enjoy the freedoms WE Americans seem to take for granted each day. We should be thanking them for their contributions.

    January 31, 2010 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    500 Million peace bribe and stay for another 10 years? Wow, the French wanted no part of that, go figure. If Bush jr. were in office, he'd snap that up in a heartbeat! Is there any further proof needed for anyone to figure out that President Karzi is greedy and corrupt? America should be getting ready to pull out its troops next year, not promising to continue propping up a corrupt leader which is not supported by that nations own citizens.

    American taxpayers, Say NO to payoff's for bad behavior in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    January 30, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    Sounds like the Pakistani's are so annoyed by our drone attacks. They just need to have some "involvment", to save some face.

    January 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    A shock! The French have had enough. To think there was a time this was the picture of economic and military power through out the world. Well, at least they can corner the market on making "white flags".

    January 29, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    When the chips are down, we can always count on the support of the French to stand behind us....well behind us.

    January 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |