France Backs Obama's Afghan Drawdown, Plans Its Own

Sarkozy has 4,000 troops there
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 24, 2011 5:00 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy smiles at a summit of the EU heads of State, on June 24, 2011 in Brussels.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A mere 12 hours after President Obama spoke on his Afghanistan drawdown, France offered its support for the plan. It will also begin a pullout of its 4,000 troops next month, “in a proportional manner and in a timeframe similar to the pullback of the American reinforcements,” the Élysée Palace said. The decision came after a phone conversation between Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, Britain also offered support for Obama’s decision, though it was more tentative. Withdrawals, said a retired military leader, should be independent of “political and electoral timescales” and shouldn’t come just because “there are elections forthcoming in our countries.” David Cameron said he’d stick with a 2014 withdrawal date; any drawdown before then would depend on conditions on the ground. European discussion of the American withdrawals focused on Obama’s choice of September 2012—just before the election—to finish the pullout of 30,000 surge troops.

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