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France to send battalion to Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • French move will help NATO meet Canada's Kandahar commitment
  • Canada agreed to extend commitment as long as other NATO members helped
  • The bulk of recent fighting has been done by U.S., Canadian, UK and Dutch troops
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BUCHAREST, Romania (CNN) -- France has agreed to send a battalion of troops to eastern Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman has said.

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Canadian NATO-led soldiers walk patrol near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

James Appathurai told reporters at a briefing that the move will help NATO meet Canada's requirement that it send more troops to the volatile southern province of Kandahar, where Canadian troops are based.

Canada agreed this month to extend its commitment of about 2,500 troops until 2011 so long as NATO contributes more troops to Kandahar.

There is a "clear unity in the alliance" that the mission in Afghanistan must succeed, Appathurai said.

Though 25 NATO allies and 13 other countries have contributed forces, the bulk of the recent fighting has been done by U.S., Canadian, British and Dutch troops.

Appathurai also said Thursday that he did not expect NATO applicants Georgia and Ukraine to be put on a membership action plan this summit but, he said, the general sense in terms of membership for the two countries is not "whether, but when."

Further discussions regarding those two countries is to resume Thursday, he said.

U.S. President George W. Bush has pushed for the admission of Ukraine and Georgia to the military alliance.

However, Russia -- which is not a NATO member -- has expressed concerns about the former Soviet republics joining NATO, which has already made members of other former Soviet countries Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

Appathurai also said a general consensus could not be reached on Macedonia's bid, because of Greece's objections.

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Greece has threatened to veto Macedonia's bid if its northern neighbor does not agree to change its name. Athens has long argued that the name Macedonia implies territorial claims on its northern province of the same name -- the birthplace, also, of Greece's most revered ancient warrior, Alexander the Great.

The name issue must be resolved by the two countries, Appathurai said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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