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French leader determined to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Posted by seumasach on May 22, 2012


22nd May, 2012

The newly-elected French President Francois Holland says he will deliver on his promises with respect to withdrawing French troops from the war-ravaged Afghanistan, Press TV reports.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the 25th NATO summit in Chicago on Monday, the French leader reaffirmed that France’s combat troops in Afghanistan will immediately begin returning home.

“Combat troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan starting now and until the end of the year. In 2013 only military trainers will remain. I told my colleagues that it was not a negotiable issue,” Holland said.

“We did more than our duty,” Hollande added.

Holland’s stern policy is in sharp contrast with that of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who boosted France’s presence in Afghanistan from a mainly technical team of about 600 members to 3600 troops.

At least 3,500 French troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan in consultation with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), according to Hollande.

Hollande’s pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was one of his key campaign promises and is thought to have helped him defeat Nicolas Sarkozy.

A total of 83 French soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since October 2001, when the US-led invasion of the country took place, according to official figures. 2011 was the bloodiest year for French troops with the loss of 26 personnel.

French people have expressed opposition to the long Afghan war with polls this year showing 84 percent of them wanting an immediate pullout.

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