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French Lawmakers Vote to Extend Afghan Mission


French lawmakers voted Monday to extend their country's mission in Afghanistan with additional troops and materiel, despite popular opposition and French military casualties in the region. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris.

French deputies voted 343 to 210 in favor of maintaining the country's 2,600 soldiers in Afghanistan, overcoming opposition by the opposition Socialist party. The senate, which also is dominated by the ruling UMP party, approved the measure later in the day.

The vote came as at least 2,000 demonstrators rallied against French troop presence in Afghanistan in Paris over the weekend.

Opposition to French forces in Afghanistan has grown since an August attack that killed 10 French soldiers by the Taliban insurgency last month. The French government has denied reports they were inadequately prepared.

And Monday, Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced plans to reinforce France's presence in the volatile country.

Fillon said the government would deploy not only 100 more troops, but helicopters, drones and other equipment. France currently has 3,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the 70,000-strong international force there.

The debate over keeping troops in Afghanistan is being sounded elsewhere in Europe, including neighboring Germany.

More than 5,000 people demonstrated in Berlin and in Stuttgart Saturday against plans to prolong the deployment of German troops there. Germany's lower house of parliament is expected to vote in October on whether to increase its military presence in Afghanistan from 3,500 to 4,500 troops.

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