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French foreign minister slams call for return of troops from Afghanistan by year end
PARIS (AP) ' France's troops won't be pulled hastily from Afghanistan, says foreign minister Alain Juppe, adding that talk of a retreat by the end of 2012 isn't "well thought out and examined."
Speaking Tuesday during a question and answer session in parliament, Juppe said "when I hear talk of an immediate pullout, or even by the end of 2012, I'm not sure that's well thought out and examined."
Last week Francois Hollande ' the Socialist front-runner in next spring's presidential election ' pledged to bring France's roughly 4,000 troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
That followed President Nicolas Sarkozy's comment that if security for troops is not restored, "then the question of an early withdrawal of the French army would arise."
Current plans are for French troops to return home by 2014.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan Tuesday President Hamid Karzai declared an emergency in the mountainous Badakhshan province in the northeast.
He promised a relief fund of $160,000 after heavy snow and avalanches killed at least 46 people in the last week.