France has suspended its combat training mission for the Afghan army in the the wake of the assassination today of four French soldiers by one of their Afghan colleagues who also injured another 16. Two French legionnaires died in similar circumstances on December 29.
President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately decided to send Defense Minister Gérard Longuet and the joint chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud to Afghanistan. He said that if the security conditions of French soldiers and recruitment conditions of Afghan soldiers were not made crystal clear and safe then “France would immediately draw the obvious conclusions.”
This latest round of killings will not improve relations between the two countries just a week before Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected in Paris to sign a friendship treaty.
“We are friends with the Afghan people, we are allies of the Afghan people but I cannot accept a situation where Afghan soldiers fire on French soldiers. If more secure conditions are not clearly established then the question of an anticipated return of the French army will be posed,” Sarkozy told diplomats this morning. You can hear Sarkozy's comments here.
The French army had set 2014 as its deadline for pulling out of Afghanistan but Sarkozy said a question mark is now hanging over this date.