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France mulls quicker Afghan withdrawal after Osama bin Laden's death

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Osama bin Laden's death is a chance 'to reflect' on the war effort and that an early withdrawal of its troops has not been excluded.

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France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe speaks during a news conference in Paris on May 3. France wants the European Union to impose sanctions on Syrian leaders including President Bashar al-Assad in response to the violent suppression of pro-democracy protests.

Charles Platiau/Reuters

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Osama bin Laden's death is already changing the popular dynamics of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, leading to questions in Europe about a faster withdrawal from the war that followed 9/11.

The idea is still largely rhetorical, with senior European officials describing ongoing needs to help Afghans build their state and work toward peace.

But in light of Mr. bin Laden's death, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said today that France will "take some time to reflect, to see what conclusions can be drawn over the coming months from what has just happened." Mr. Juppé, addressing reporters after meeting with the Pakistani prime minister in Paris, said early withdrawal has not been excluded.

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Many French security analysts agree that troop departure should be on the table. Christophe Jaffrelot, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Studies and Research, suggested, “European and American interests converge as a result of [bin Laden’s] death. In other words, when can we pull the plug in Afghanistan? It is a good excuse, one more reason to ask, ‘OK, what is the goal in Afghanistan?' "

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