South Asia News
Taliban calls on new French government to withdraw troops
May 7, 2007, 12:11 GMT
Kabul - The ousted Taliban regime on Monday called on the newly elected French government to pull out its troops from Afghanistan and not to sacrifice their own national interest for the benefit of the Americans.
'We expect from the new French government to have an independent policy towards Afghanistan in which the national interest of both Afghanistan and France is maintained,' Qari Muhammad Yousif Ahmandi said in a statement posted on the the Taliban website.
'France, as a big and independent country, should not sacrifice their own national interest for America and it is not fair that the French young soldiers get killed for the benefit of America in Afghanistan or kill the Afghans,' Ahmadi said.
The statement asked the French government to announce a date for the withdrawal of its troops.
Though Monday's statement did not say why the French soldiers should be pulled out of the country, the group said on Saturday that it had extended the deadline for its demand to release a French hostage along with his three Afghan colleagues until the result of French election was known.
Taliban militants kidnapped two French aid workers with Terre d'Enfance, an agency helping children, in Nimroz province, on April 2 and asked the French government to withdraw its approximately 1,000 troops conducting peace-keeping operations under the NATO command.
The group last week gave a May 5 deadline for the French government to withdraw while releasing the Celine, the female aid worker, and keeping the male along with the three Afghans.
Last month, the Taliban released Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo in a controversial deal after the Afghan government released five Taliban members.
The militants, however, executed his Afghan translator, Ajmal Naqshbandi, and his driver, Sayed Agha. The deal sparked severe criticism from both inside Afghanistan and in the international community, including the United States and Britain.
The Taliban still holds four other Afghan medical workers and their drivers who were kidnapped earlier in Kandahar province. The Afghan government has been asked to hand over more militant prisoners in exchange for their safe return.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur