France to cut overseas troops in Balkans, Africa

France plans to cut its overseas forces from 13,000 to 10,000 troops this year in the Balkans and Africa, the French defence minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

France to cut overseas troops in Balkans, Africa
The minister said some operations would be trimmed to fit changing needs and a tighter budget.

The lower house of parliament was due to vote later on Wednesday on extending the mandates of some of France's foreign operations, including its participation in the European Union's EUFOR force in Bosnia.

"I think the operation in Bosnia doesn't make sense anymore," Defence Minister Herve Morin told newspaper France-Soir, referring to the European Union peacekeeping mission that took over from NATO in 2004.

Morin said the country now needed military trainers rather than peacekeeping troops.

The extent of France's involvement in international peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, Chad, Central African Republic and Ivory Coast are also under review, he said.

"What counts is to know if there is the need to sustain this level of forces," he was quoted as saying. "If at the same time we can save some money for the country, all the better."

He expected the reduction of troops elsewhere to save 100 to 150 million euros a year.

The lower house is scheduled to vote on extending the mandate for operations in Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Lebanon, Chad and Central Africa Republic, as well as EUFOR.

France is shaking up its defence strategy abroad and at home.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said last year France would renegotiate all its defence cooperation agreements with African countries, some of which are among its closest allies. Under such agreements, French forces can sometimes intervene directly in an internal conflict.

Reuters

Reuters
Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2009, 15:47
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