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France to commit 5,000 troops

French troops
French involvement has so far been limited to logistics and intelligence  


PARIS, France -- France plans to commit some 5,000 troops to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, a defence ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said 2,450 naval and air force personnel would be involved in the deployment of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Indian Ocean.

The nuclear-powered vessel is due to arrive there in the middle of December.

French involvement in the campaign has so far been limited mainly to logistical and intelligence support, involving some 2,000 personnel.

An additional 300 have been earmarked for security and humanitarian aid missions around Mazar-e Sharif.

About 50 French soldiers in Uzbekistan are also waiting to fly across the border into northern Afghanistan once the Afghan authorities give their approval, France's Minister of Cooperation said on Thursday.

President Jacques Chirac said this week that about 2,000 troops were already involved in the U.S.-led campaign.

The bulk of the military operations in Afghanistan, which began with U.S. air strikes on October 7, have been carried out by the United States and Britain.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin announced the deployment of France's only aircraft carrier on Wednesday, saying it would help stop bin Laden and others of his al Qaeda network from escaping landlocked Aghanistan by sea via a third country.

France has also announced the dispatch of Mirage 2000 fighter bombers, but has yet to find a suitable base for them in central Asia.

The Defence Ministry has said six such planes and two refuelling aircraft would be sent once a base was found.



 
 
 
 


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