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Chirac Calls for Eurocorps To Take over in Afghanistan

The French President is calling for a joint European force to take over from NATO in Afghanistan.

The Eurocorps, consisting of soldiers from France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, could take over NATO's operations in Afghanistan in the summer. French President Jacques Chirac proposed the plan to NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at a meeting earlier this week, and it will be discussed at a crucial NATO meeting on Friday in Munich, which will also be attended by American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. NATO currently commands the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which is mainly based in the capital Kabul. In turn, Germany is running the NATO operation in Afghanistan, but it will be succeeded by Canada on Feb. 10. But one of the operation’s main partners, Canada, intends to reduce its forces in the country from 2,000 troops to 500 from August, which has prompted Chirac’s suggestion. The Eurocorps consists of over 50,000 men and has already undertaken peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. However, Afghanistan would be a much riskier undertaking. ( EUobserver.com)