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Europe eyes Afghan pullout after Obama pledge

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Europe eyes Afghan pullout after Obama pledge


French President Nicolas Sarkozy has followed Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by promising to bring French forces back from the country.

France will “gradually withdraw” its 4,000 troops based there within the same time frame set by the American president, according to a statement from Sarkozy’s office.

On Wednesday Obama said in a televised address that 33,000 US troops will leave by September 2012. An estimated 68,000 would remain until 2013 but will only leave then if Afghan forces are “ready” to take over.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that his country’s involvement in Afghanistan will also be scaled down until a complete withdrawal by 2015.

Britain currently has more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor of troops to the NATO force in Afghanistan after the US.

Germany has nearly 5,000 troops in northern Afghanistan and it wants to reduce that number from the end of the year.

Details of Berlin’s pull-out are still to be finalised.

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