France to send troops to Afghanistan
PARIS, France -- France says it will soon send troops to Afghanistan to help in the international aid mission.
Defence Minister Alain Richard said on Thursday it would be a "matter of days" before the troops would join the U.S.-led coalition.
No further details were revealed about how many soldiers would be deployed.
France had told the United Nations on Wednesday that it was ready to participate in a mission to help ensure the safe passage of aid and humanitarian convoys in Afghanistan following the rout of Taliban forces by the opposition Northern Alliance.
The UK said on Wednesday that it had put 3,900 of its troops on 48-hours notice for possible deployment in helping stabilise the country, supporting security of airports and the arrival of U.N. forces.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons the troops would be involved in the humanitarian effort but did not rule out them also being involved in offensive operations.
The troops would be in addition to the UK's special forces already in the country.
Italy is to provide a 2,700-strong force for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, including naval, air and ground units, parliament has been told.
Defence minister Antonio Martino said the majority of Italy's military contribution would be involved in logistical and defensive operations, but added that a limited number of the contingent might be involved in combat operations.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has offered to send up to 3,900 troops to help in the war against terror.
The plan is expected to be passed by the German parliament with the support of opposition parties, but Schroeder has also tied the vote to a vote of confidence in his leadership.
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