Sarkozy Warns That Pakistan Also at Stake in Afghan Campaign

Politics Materials 7 September 2008 11:11 (UTC +04:00)

Afghanistan, Kabul, 6 September / Trend corr.A.Hakimi/ France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday that pulling out of Afghanistan, where 10 French troops were killed by the Taliban last month, would amount to abandoning nuclear-armed Pakistan.

"If we abandon Afghanistan we will be abandoning Pakistan, which doesn't need that. I want to remind you of one thing: that Pakistan has the nuclear bomb," he told reporters before winding up a visit to the Syrian capital. "I want to say to the French that my conviction has not changed," he said.

A Taliban ambush followed by intense fighting in the Sarobi district near the Afghan capital Kabul on August 18 and 19 left 10 French soldiers dead and 21 wounded.

The attack prompted a public outcry in France, with some calling for the immediate withdrawal of the 3,000 French troops serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"If almost all democracies are down there, if (US presidential candidate) Barack Obama has made the presence in Afghanistan the centerpiece of his election campaign... he must have a good reason," Sarkozy said.

"Our soldiers, by fighting terrorists down there, are protecting us here. We must understand that terrorism is a global movement."

Last month's attack near Kabul shocked France, with Sarkozy traveling to Afghanistan immediately afterwards. It prompted calls for more reconnaissance and intelligence gathering in operations.

About 70,000 international troops are fighting alongside Afghans against Taliban insurgents whose regime was ousted in a US-led invasion launched after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States. (AFP)