This is promising. Sarkozy’s words give me some hope that NATO may not become the self-flushing alliance I had feared. There’s a long way to go yet but at least the rhetoric sounds right and has something concrete to back it. Well done France.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy affirmed his country’s commitment to send about 700 troops to the NATO mission to Afghanistan in a speech at the NATO summit Thursday. News that Canada’s demand for reinforcements in the volatile south of Afghanistan was answered came late Wednesday.
“France will play its full part in this collective action,” Mr. Sarkozy told a press conference Thursday. “I decided to ramp up France’s military presence with a battalion to be deployed in the eastern region.
“Afghanistan is a strategic issue for international security. It is the central issue for relations between Islam and the West. Imagine what the consequences of a new terrorist state would be in that region of the world.”
As a result of the French announcement, the United States confirmed it would deploy additional resources to the south, including Kandahar province, where 2,500 Canadian troops are located.
“It’s good news for Canada and it’s good news for NATO,” Sandra Buckler, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokeswoman, told Canwest News Service on Wednesday.
Mr. Harper had earlier said he was “very optimistic” Canada would get the troops it wants, “whether we achieve it at this summit or the weeks to come.”
Mr. Sarkozy made an impassioned plea for the Afghanistan mission, as he shared a podium with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later Thursday afternoon. He pledged that French troops would do their part in the eastern region along the Pakistan border.
“We want the security of Afghanistan, to rebuild Afghanistan,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “If we want to leave one day, we must win today.
“It’s not when it’s difficult that you abandon your friends.”