Forward Operating Base Tora (Afghanistan): France is to withdraw a quarter of its troops, about 1,000 soldiers, from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on a visit to the country on Tuesday.

"It's necessary to end the war," he told journalists at a base in the district of Sarobi, north of the capital Kabul, where he was visiting troops. "There was never a question of keeping troops in Afghanistan indefinitely."

France has around 4,000 troops deployed in the country, mostly in Sarobi, Kabul, and in northeastern Kapisa province.

"We will withdraw a quarter of our troops, that's to say 1,000 men, by the end of 2012," he said. Those remaining in Afghanistan will be concentrated in Kapisa province, northeast
of the capital.

The French leader announced last month at the close of an EU summit that "hundreds" of French troops would leave "by the end of the year, early next year" following the United
States' announcement of a limited drawdown.

The United States, which has the largest contingent of foreign forces in Afghanistan, has announced that all 33,000 "surge" troops will leave by the end of next summer.