(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - January 30, 2009: France will withdraw 2,100 troops from Ivory Coast and Chad this year, out of a total 13,290 personnel deployed overseas, intending to save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros ($130.0 million to $196.3 million), the government said. Foreign deployments cost 857 million euros last year, up from 685 million euros in 2007, Defense Ministry figures show. French Prime Minister François Fillon told the lower house National Assembly in a Jan. 28 debate on foreign military operations that "at least 1,000" of 1,650 French soldiers deployed in the European Union Eufor contingent would be pulled out by the summer. The United Nations takes over the mandate for the multinational force deployed on the border of Congo and Chad on March 15. France was a prime mover in getting the European Union to commit troops alongside African Union forces along the Chadian border to protect refugees from the Darfur province. Reduced conflict and the prospect of elections in Ivory Coast meant France could pull some troops out of the West African country, Fillon said. Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in an interview with daily newspaper France Soir on Jan. 28, "The idea in 2009 is to move toward a 20 percent reduction. We could cut numbers from 13,000 to 10,000," he said. Lower numbers abroad could save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros a year, he said. Troop strength in Afghanistan would be maintained, and Morin ruled out a force increase as requested by U.S. President Barack Obama. "This subject is not up for debate," Morin said. "There is no plan to send new French troops to Afghanistan." Other withdrawals could come from Bosnia and Kosovo, he said. The white paper on defense and national security set out the guidelines for foreign intervention, including: * Seriousness of threat to national security or international peace and security. * Consideration of other measures. * Respect for international rule of law. * Sovereign appreciation by French political authorities, freedom of action and capacity to assess the situation at all times. * Democratic legitimacy, implying transparency of goals and support of the nation, as expressed by parliament. * Capacity to commit French troops at a sufficient level, national control and a political strategy seeking a lasting settlement of the crisis. * Definition of the commitment in space and time, with a precise evaluation of cost. Because the deployments are not fully funded by the general budget, money has traditionally been used from the equipment investment account.
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