- Daily press briefing statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson
Paris, September 19, 2006
France condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in the Kandahar region yesterday that killed 21 people, including four Canadian soldiers with ISAF.
It offers its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and friends. It is forwarding a message of support to the Canadian authorities and renews its solidarity with the Afghan people.
These events do not shake the determination of France and the international community to assist Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve stability and rebuild.
Q - The troops stationed there asked desperately for aid last week. How come no one is responding ? Can France deploy additional forces ?
There was a discussion in NATO among the various partner countries on the situation in Afghanistan, which is certainly troubling, and an eventual call for additional troops. As you know, our country is already very involved in Afghanistan. We are taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom, which was launched in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. We have a number of military personnel present, either with the Special Forces or attached to the Afghan army to help with its training. We’re also present in the NATO-led ISAF, the International Security and Assistance Force, and from this standpoint we have a battalion deployed in Kabul, about 650 strong. We also have a number of commitments with the naval force in the Arabian Sea. We are present in the air units. We’re also present in terms of air support in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Lastly we’ve a number of men in reserve in the NATO strategic reserve force, who are mobilized. As you can see, we are extremely active in the framework of this military presence. As of August 6 we also have responsibility for the Kabul region command, and we’ve reinforced our presence in this area. Given this deployment we’re extremely sensitive to the calls made, given the security situation prevailing in Afghanistan.
Q - Everyone says the same thing. All those engaged in Afghanistan are saying the same thing isn’t the West in the process of abandoning Afghanistan ?
I can’t speak for other countries. I know that some responded positively to the request for additional assets. What I’m saying—and I’m speaking for Franceùis that as far as we are concerned, we are already heavily involved and therefore have a strong presence in the international force in Afghanistan at this time.