( AFP ) - The new French government must pull troops out of Afghanistan, the Taliban said Monday after France's presidential election, and offered to extend a deadline over the release of a French hostage.
A spokesman said the insurgent movement is ready to extend the deadline for its demands to be met for the release of the Terre d'Enfance (A World For Our Children) aid worker if the Afghan and French governments make contact.
"We ask the new French government to secure the national interests of France and Afghanistan," Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP here hours after rightwinger Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidential election.
"It mustn't sacrifice its national interests for the interests and strategies of the Americans. It is also not fair that the French youth or the Afghan youth die in fighting.
"Our first demand from the new government of France is that before anything else they must present an exact timetable for the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan."
The hardline Taliban, which was in government between 1996 and 2001, is waging a growing insurgency that is being tackled by troops from Afghanistan and 37 other countries, including France which has about 1,000 troops here.
The Taliban was driven from power by a US-led coalition in late 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States.
The group has demand the French troops leave or that Taliban prisoners be freed from Afghan jails in exchange for volunteer Eric Damfreville and three Afghan co-workers captured more than a month ago.
"As we said earlier, our deadline extends at the end of the election process in France," Ahmadi said.
He said Sunday that this meant until the new government was in place, which should be around late June.
"If anybody contacts us, either the Afghan government or the French government, about the hostages, we are ready to further extend the deadline," Ahmadi said.