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France backs Italy in Taliban payment allegations

Article published on the 2009-10-16 Latest update 2009-10-16 15:05 TU

 French Minister of Defence Hervé Morin(Photo: AFP)

French Minister of Defence Hervé Morin
(Photo: AFP)

France believes Italy's denial that it paid the Afghan Taliban for peace in an area where ten French soldiers died last year, Defence Minister Hervé Morin said today.

There is "no reason to doubt the word of the Italian government", Morin said after yesterday's denial by Rome of a London Times report that Italy paid the Taliban not to attack its troops in the Sarobi district east of Kabul.

Ten French soldiers died in an attack in that area a month after France took over responsibility for it in 2008. They were lightly armed and had poor air cover.

Morin, who is on a visit to the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion, said that he has "no reason not to have confidence in the Italian government" and that "we have no such information" about payments to insurgents.

French Armed Forces General Staff representative Admiral Christophe Prazuck on Thursday described the charges as "baseless".

The oppositon Socialist Party has demanded that Morin appear before the parliament's defence committiee to give the government's response to the Times claims.

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