( AFP ) - France is preparing to expand its training efforts with the Afghan army, planning to deploy an additional 150 instructors to the country, the defence ministry said.
Providing high quality training to the Afghan forces and especially its officers is an "absolute priority," said ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau during a weekly news conference.
"We want to do everything to help Afghanistan build up its national army, which will ensure the stability of the country along with other entities, such as the police force," he said.
The planned deployment was expected to come up for discussion among NATO ministers this week in Brussels, Bureau said.
A 50-strong French training team is already on the ground with the 201st corps of the Afghan army in the Kabul area.
Countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain have repeatedly been criticised for not contributing enough to the fight against the Taliban, which have mounted tougher-than-expected resistance.
The exact timing and assignment of the additional contingent of trainers has yet to be decided, according to armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck. The French troops will accompany Afghan soldiers on the ground and help prepare operations but will not be deployed in combat, he added.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin indicated on Tuesday that Paris wanted to shift its emphasis in Afghanistan from military operations to training Afghan security forces and helping the country's development.
"Our desire is not to remain forever in Afghanistan," Morin said after a meeting with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who has been pressing European allies to make good on commitments to send more troops to Afghanistan.