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July 11, 2011

France to Withdraw 1,000 Troops from Afghanistan

France says it plans to withdraw 1,000 of its combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan Tuesday the drawdown is necessary to end the war. He added that there was "never a question of keeping French troops in the country indefinitely."

France currently has about 4,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Sarkozy says the first troops to leave will be those stationed in the Surobi area on the outskirts of Kabul.  The remaining 3,000 soldiers will be based mostly in the eastern part of the country.

President Sarkozy spoke to reporters after meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. General David Petraeus. His visit comes a day after a French soldier died after being accidentally shot by another French soldier. An investigation of the shooting has been opened.

A total of 64 French soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

All international combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, transferring security control to local forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.