French authorities say the country's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, is to be deployed in the Indian Ocean next month to back up the U-S-led military campaign in Afghanistan against terrorism.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told the lower house of parliament the cabinet agreed on the deployment earlier today (Wednesday). He said one of the missions of the carrier and its escort vessels will be to help prevent the escape by sea of Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The French prime minister called the elimination of the terrorist movement one of the principal objectives of the U-S -led campaign. He said the deployment of the vessels will lend a European demention to the operation.
Mr. Jospin also said his country is still working out plans to dispatch several hundred troops to northern Afghanistan to secure an airfield near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. An advance party of 58 soldiers that left for the area last week is still in Uzbekistan. Details of their mission are still being worked out with the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance, which controls the area of the base.