Kabul: French Defence Minister Alain Juppe
arrived in Kabul on Saturday for a Christmas visit to troops
deployed in Afghanistan, according to a news agency journalist.
Juppe, on his first journey to the country since he
assumed his post in November, is due to visit several French
and other units deployed in the capital and elsewhere during
his 48-hour trip.
Soon after arriving he stopped at the French military
field hospital at Kabul airport, where he met medical
personnel and patients, including Afghan civilians.
The hospital "is a symbol of what we are doing here", he
said. "Of course there are military actions but there are also
actions for development to benefit the Afghans."
Juppe is is scheduled to meet Afghan President Hamid
Karzai on Sunday. He is expected to raise the plight of French
hostages Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier, who were
kidnapped along with their Afghan colleagues last December.
France has around 3,850 troops deployed in Afghanistan,
particularly in Kapisa province, near Kabul, and Surobi
district, 60 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of the capital.
France has suffered 52 military deaths in Afghanistan
since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.