France has the fourth-largest force in the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, with 3,600 troops. Six hundred are slated to leave this year, and the rest by the end of 2014. So far, 82 French troops have been killed.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking re-election April 22 against foes who say they would move more quickly to end France’s participation in the war. His Socialist opponent, Francois Hollande, said Friday that if elected, he will pull all French troops out by the end of 2012.
In private, U.S. officials have been worried for months about waning support among their allies for keeping combat troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2014. They are hoping to keep the alliance unified until a NATO meeting in May, when they want to announce they are speeding up the transition to a strategy more focused on training Afghan forces.
Associated Press, McClatchy