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Hollande says Afghan pullout by year-end

Francois Hollande said the troops had carried out their mission in Afghanistan and it was time for them to leave

Written by Associated Press | Kabul |
May 26, 2012 2:01:17 am

All French combat troops will pull out of Afghanistan by the end of the year,France’s new president said in Kabul on Friday,but some trainers will remain to help Afghanistan’s nascent security forces.

Francois Hollande said the troops had carried out their mission in Afghanistan and it was time for them to leave,an early pullout that will be coordinated with the United States and other allies. “There will be no combat troops after the end of the year,” Hollande said during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Hollande flew to Afghanistan to meet with troops and discuss plans with Karzai to withdraw French combat troops more than a year earlier than scheduled. His visit was not announced ahead of time for security reasons,and he was expected to depart shortly after the news conference.

Hollande said France will withdraw its 2,000 combat troops,out of a total of 3,400 troops and 150 gendarmes,by the end of the year. Some would stay behind to help send military equipment back to France,and others would help train the Afghan army and police. He did not provide a breakdown for the roles of the 1,400 soldiers who will remain past 2012 or how long they would stay.

Hollande said continued cooperation was discussed over lunch with Karzai “because there will continue to be trainers who will work with (Afghan) soldiers and police”.

“We won’t have any more combat forces in Afghanistan after December 31,2012. We will still have a military force that will be dedicated to the training of Afghan army officers,and also be present at hospital,airport and allow the Afghans to have the most effective possible police force,’’ he explained during a function at the French Embassy.

Hollande insisted that France was not abandoning Afghanistan. “No. This is a continuation,and there will be further engagement,but in a different form.’’

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