France to mull faster exit from Afghanistan

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2011 5:17 PM
France to mull faster exit from Afghanistan

France and the U.S. are considering speeding up their withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, the French foreign minister said Wednesday.

France has about 4,000 troops in in the U.S.- and NATO-led missions in Afghanistan, and minister Alain Juppe said France and its allies would be examining how to proceed.

Speaking on France 24 TV, Juppe said NATO's goal in Afghanistan was not kill bin Laden but to help its government establish authority and bring peace and democracy for its people.

Now that bin Laden is dead, Juppe said accelerating the planned withdrawal by 2014 is "one of the options we're going to consider. The Americans are also thinking about it."

Britain's foreign minister, William Hague, struck a different note, saying that the death would prompt Britain to fight terrorism "with renewed determination."

He said that bin Laden's death should encourage the Taliban to make "a decisive break" from al-Qaida, but he made no mention of an accelerated timetable for withdrawal.

Earlier this week British Prime Minister David Cameron seemed to play down the notion that bin Laden's death would lead to an early exit for British troops _ who are due to end their combat role there by 2015.

Bin Laden died during an American special forces raid in Pakistan early Monday.