French, Canadian ministers pledge Afghan support
By Robert Birsel
KABUL (Reuters) - Two of Afghanistan's main allies, France and Canada, reaffirmed their support on Saturday after meetings with President Hamid Karzai.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Kabul after Paris promised an extra 700 soldiers to help battle the Taliban and he spoke of the importance of "Afghanistanisation," when Afghans take over responsibility for tackling their problems.
The battle was not only against the resurgent Taliban but also against poverty, corruption and to promote human rights, good governance and democracy, he said.
"It will only be along this difficult way that we can find better involvement of the Afghans for their daily life and future," Kouchner told a news conference.
French officials have said France's reinforcements were conditional on a more unified overall strategy on issues including development, and on progressively handing over responsibility for security and other issues to Afghans.
France is to host a conference on June 12 aimed at raising funds for Afghanistan and reviewing strategy.
Afghanistan's allies pledged long-term support at a NATO summit this month but there has been tension within the alliance over troop contributions.
"STILL A CHALLENGE" Continued...