Sarkozy: roots of terror lie beyond Afghan borders
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, Sarkozy said he expected French troops based in Kapisa province and the Sarobi district of Kabul to hand over security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts within the next few weeks.
Sarkozy, who will be meeting International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US commander General David Petraeus and French soldiers, said that Pakistan had a vital role to play in bringing about peace and stability in the region.
He said Afghanistan had always been the victim of foreign interference. "I insist and call on the Pakistani government to play an effective role in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan," he said.
He said much of the problem in Afghanistan was linked to the situation across the border, a reference to militant sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal region which borders Afghanistan.
The French President said his country would pull troops from Afghanistan gradually, with the first phase of withdrawal concluding before the end of 2012. However, he did not say how many troops would be pulled out in the first phase.
France has nearly 4,000 troops based in Kapisa and the Sarobi district of Kabul.
The security transition process is scheduled to begin this month and complete by 2014.
Sarkozy also said his country would continue to assist Afghanistan in many fields beyond 2014, when the withdrawal of foreign troops would be complete.
He said foreign assistance would become civilian rather than military in nature. He said would discuss with officials in his government a five year strategic plan for Afghanistan.
Sarkozy also expressed his condolences to President Hamid Karzai on the death of his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai.
Wali Karzai was killed by one of his own security guards at his home in Kandahar City on Tuesday.
President Karzai said his younger brother was martyred at his home. He said it was the life of Afghans, who had been enduring similar grief for the past several years.
However, he said Afghans had a better and peaceful life ahead and that the situation would improve soon. He thanked Sarkozy for his government's assistance to Afghanistan.
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