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Russian official warns NATO transit to Afghanistan at risk

France may send special forces back to Afghanistan: minister
France may send special forces back to Afghanistan to bolster its presence there, even after 10 soldiers were killed last week, Defence Minister Herve Morin said in an interview published Tuesday. "I have... asked the chief-of-staff of the army to prepare some proposals for me," the minister was quoted as saying in Le Parisien newspaper. "Among those could be sending some special forces." He said the reasoning for sending special forces is "not for conducting military operations as such, but to improve intelligence to help our troops better understand the environment they find themselves in." Morin's comments came a week after 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in the deadliest ground battle for international soldiers that arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban regime and root out extremists. France withdrew its special forces from Afghanistan in January 2007. Lawmakers were due to question Morin and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in the National Assembly on Tuesday, amid a renewed debate about France's role in Afghanistan. France has 3,000 troops serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a UN-mandated force that currently numbers around 53,000 troops from 40 countries.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 26, 2008
NATO should not be able to use Russian routes to transit supplies and equipment to Afghanistan because Russia has suspended military co-operation with the Western alliance, the country's ambassador to Kabul argued in an interview published Tuesday.

Speaking to The Times from the Afghan capital, Zamir Kabulov said increased tensions between Russia and West over the former's recent assault on Georgia could lead Moscow to review other such agreements.

Asked by the newspaper if Russia's suspension of military co-operation with NATO invalidated an April agreement on the transit of supplies to Afghanistan, Kabulov said: "Of course. Why not? If there is a suspension of military cooperation, this is military cooperation."

"No one with common sense can expect to co-operate with Russia in one part of the world while acting against it in another," he added.

He insisted, however, that Russia was not seeking to derail NATO efforts in Afghanistan, telling The Times: "It's not in Russia's interests for NATO to be defeated and leave behind all these problems."

"We'd prefer NATO to complete its job and then leave this unnatural geography.

"But at the same time, we'll be the last ones to moan about NATO's departure."

NATO leads the 53,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is tasked with spreading the influence of Kabul's weak central government across the country.

But five years after taking charge, ISAF is struggling to defeat a tenacious Taliban-led insurgency, in part commanded from across the porous mountain border with Pakistan.

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Afghan cabinet demands review of international presence
Kabul (AFP) Aug 26, 2008
The Afghan cabinet demanded Monday a renegotiation of agreements regulating the presence of international troops in Afghanistan after more than 90 civilians were killed in US-led air strikes.

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