Paris hands Kabul strategic pact draft
KABUL (PAN): The French government has provided the draft of a long-term strategic cooperation agreement, expected to be signed ahead of the second Bonn conference on December 5, to the Afghan government, a foreign ministry official said on Sunday.
The five-year pact could be extended, Janan Musazai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a news conference. He said the agreement was mainly focused on strengthening relations between the two countries in areas of security, culture, politics and education.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during a trip to Afghanistan on July 12, had proposed the strategic pact, the spokesman recalled. Sarkozy said his country would support the Afghan government in areas of education, agriculture, economy, health and governance even after the completion of security transition in 2014.
One of the closest allies of the United States, France has 3,700 combat troops serving in Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force command. The French troops are mainly based in Kabul and Kapisa provinces.
Since 2002, as many as 75 French soldiers have so far been killed in militant attacks. The French government says it will withdraw 400 troops this year and the rest before 2014.
Musazai said President Hamid Karzai would be participating in a trilateral summit among Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey in Istanbul on November 1. Karzai would lead a high-powered delegation to the meeting.
The delegation will also take part in another conference on regional cooperation in Turkey. The conference is aimed at increasing security cooperation between regional and Middle Eastern countries.
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