US denies confrontation with France over extra troops to Afghanistan

U.S. denied it was disappointed by France's decision to send only 80 more trainers to Afghanistan.

US denies confrontation with France over extra troops to Afghanistan

The United States denied on Monday it was disappointed by France's decision to send only 80 more trainers to Afghanistan and held out hope President Nicolas Sarkozy would be able to do more later.

Public support for the war in France has eroded, and a series of French battlefield deaths has increased the opposition against war in Afghanistan.

"It's important... to maintain some perspective," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters when asked about Paris's position.

"Just within the last year or so, France has increased its forces in Afghanistan by a third to a half and taken on new responsibilities,"

A senior U.S. defence official travelling with Gates Gates told a Paris news conference with French Defence Minister Herve Morin that Washington held out expectation that France would increase the number of trainers beyond 80.

"This is not a static number, and as time goes on, people will be able to re-evaluate and contribute more," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Gates was "not dissatisfied in any way" with the French offer of more troops for training, the official added.

France was the only country to make a firm new pledge on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Istanbul last week. But its offer of 80 French instructors was far fewer than the hundreds that Washington had expected.

With about 3,750 troops in the region, France is the fourth biggest partner of the war in Afghanistan, after the United States, Britain and Germany.

Sarkozy, who was to meet Gates later on Monday, has publicly ruled out deploying more combat troops to Afghanistan but has said he would be open to sending more trainers.

NATO leaders say new training teams are needed if Afghanistan's security forces are to grow to a target of 300,000 personnel in 2011.

Reuters

Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2010, 08:31
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