"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sarkozy stirs the NATO/Afghan pot - threatens withdrawal of French troops

In a TV interview yesterday leader in the Presidential race Nicolas Sarkozy said he' would "consider" withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan adding that he had always supported the decision of President Jacques Chirac to pull 200 elite FFL troops from Afghnaistan at the end of 2006.

Seen as pro American (or at least no Anti-American) this declaration from Sarkozy is is unlikely to go down well with France's NATO allies -- including the United States, Canada and Britain -- who have borne the brunt of fighting a resurgent Taliban in the volatile poppy growing southern province of Helmand.

Of the approximately 35,000 NATO troops now stationed in Afghanistan, some 1,100 are French.

France is currently trying to secure the release of two French aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan on April 3rd. The two aid workers from the organization Terre d'Enfance (A World for Our Children) were traveling with three Afghan colleagues from Nimroz westwards to neighboring Farah province when they went missing at the beginning of April. Nimroz governor Ghulam Dastgir Azad reported that they were kidnapped on the highway in Khash Rod district [in Nimroz province] and taken to neighboring Helmand,"

A film of the captured workers has been aired 2 weeks ago by the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya and the Canadian Broadcasting Corportion have shown stills(see pics) from the film of the two (Eric and Celine ) with an extract of the voice over said to be spoken by the captives that ,"they were told that if there isn't a positive response on the part of French authorities to what the Taliban is asking, then they will be killed within a matter of days,"

An ultimatum set by their Taliban captors for France to withdraw its troops expires on Friday.Their kidnapping closely follows the kidnapping of Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica last month in Helmand.

He was released after two weeks when Kabul freed five Taliban officials, but his driver was beheaded and his translator remains hostage.

That deal drew strong criticism in Italy and security officials in Afghanistan who said it would only encourage further such attempts.

Naturally there has been little official reaction but French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy declining to comment on the video, said the video was being analyzed and he stressed France was determined to get the workers released, saying: "More than ever, our objective is to bring them home safe and sound." (BBC report)

Further information is available at the terre d'enfance website the picture above is from their site showiing working with women in Zaranj.

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