Election puts French Afghan force on notice

The New York Times reports: A spokesman for the French military here said that about a fourth of French troops were on course to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year, while they awaited word on whether the new French president would speed up their withdrawal.

Troops from France, the fifth-biggest troop-contributing country in the NATO-led coalition, would drop to 2,600 by the end of the year, from 3,400 now, according to Lt. Col. Francois Guillermet, a spokesman for the French military.

About 200 French troops, mostly combat forces, left Afghanistan in March ahead of schedule in the wake of an attack by a rogue Afghan soldier that killed four French soldiers and wounded 15.

President-elect François Hollande of France had said during the election campaign that he would withdraw all French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 — a year sooner than France’s already accelerated withdrawal.

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