June 15 - Transition to Afghan forces still on track as France prepares for early troop withdrawal. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
**EDITORS PLEASE NOTE - RESENDING SCRIPT WITH CORRECTION OF A TYPO** France pays tribute to four French soldiers killed in Afghanistan in Kapisa province last weekend. As French President Francois Hollande offered condolences, he restated plans to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, well before NATO allies. This comes as Afghanistan is in the the third stage of transition, handing over security to Afghan forces with Kapisa on the list to handover. In Kabul, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON , SAYING: "The responsibly in Kapisa will lie with Afghan security forces, as the French forces redeploy. " As for the readiness of Afghan forces, Jacobson says one need only look at Kabul, which came under a prolonged attack last September, just after Afghan forces had assumed responsibility. They needed help from foreign forces. When the Afghan capital came under fire in April this year it was very different. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON , SAYING: "This time, Afghan national security forces fully took control. They hardly needed any help from ISAF at all." More than 3,000 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the war was launched in in 2001. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters