France will make it clear to Washington that Paris opposes US withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the statement on Friday, ahead of a visit from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is traveling to the country next week.
Le Drian’s comments come during President Trump’s shake-up in the Pentagon that is rumored to be related to differences over troop withdrawals. Trump has also expressed his desire to bring all troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas, but so far, no orders have been given.
Under the US-Taliban peace deal signed in February, all foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by Spring 2021 if the conditions of the deal are met. France has been involved in the US and NATO’s mission in Afghanistan since 2001.
According to Reuters, Le Drian said France opposes unilateral withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq, “given the fight against Islamist militancy.” Recent terror attacks in France have sparked controversy over French President Emmanuel Macron’s handling of the incidents and comments about Islam.
France has been the target of multiple terror attacks in recent years claimed by groups like ISIS. The attacks surged in 2015 after France intervened in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, a campaign known as Opération Chammal. ISIS claimed the 2015 Paris attack that killed over 100 people was in retaliation for France’s air campaign in Syria.
France is also leading a counter-insurgency against militants in Africa’s Sahel region, a campaign that has been ongoing since 2013.