PARIS - France will begin pulling out 200 troops from Afghanistan on Wednesday, Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to withdraw about 1,000 troops by the end of 2012 with a complete pullout of its 4,500 soldiers by the end of 2014 - the deadline set for handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.
"We are carrying out a proportional withdrawal," Longuet said on France Inter radio. "The zones that we are in charge of will be handed over to the Afghan army."
Seventy-five French soldiers have been killed since France joined US and NATO-led Afghanistan operations in 2001.