The French government will tell Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is preparing for a visit to Paris, that the US should not pull its troops out of Afghanistan or Iraq, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday.
Asked in a televised interview to react to outgoing President Donald Trump’s reported plans to hasten a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Le Drian said “We don’t think that should happen. We will also say that it shouldn’t happen in Iraq, either.”
According to political and diplomatic sources, Pompeo issued an ultimatum in September that all US personnel would leave Iraq unless the government puts a stop to a rash of attacks against them.
Le Drian said the Iraq situation was on the agenda for talks with Pompeo, as was Iran, terrorism, the Middle East and relations with China.
Trump said in October that he wanted all US troops home from Afghanistan “by Christmas,” December 25.
That promise was followed by clarification attempts by high-ranking officials, including national security adviser Robert O’Brien who said that troop numbers in Afghanistan would be cut to around 2,500 in early 2021.
Pompeo will see President Emmanuel Macron on Monday in a meeting that will be conducted “in complete transparency toward the team of president-elect Joe Biden,” Macron’s office said.
Pompeo’s visit to France will be the start of an international tour that will see him travel to Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from November 13-23.