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Hollande sticks to Afghan pledge in Obama talks

Posted by The Agonist on May 18th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Washington | May 19

AFP – France’s President Francois Hollande used his White House debut on Friday to restate his intention to get French combat troops home from Afghanistan this year – breaking with NATO’s 2014 schedule.

Hollande met President Barack Obama for the first time since taking office three days ago, ahead of a testing weekend of international summits, with G8 leaders at Camp David and NATO chiefs at a 61-nation gathering in Chicago.

“I recalled to President Obama that I had made a promise to withdraw our combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2012,” Hollande said, as the two leaders spoke to reporters in the Oval Office.

“I also stipulated that there would still be support in another form,” Hollande said, adding that the French withdrawal would be done in consultation with French allies in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Obama did not dispute Hollande’s position, but stressed that NATO states must sustain their commitment to help “Afghans build security and continue down the path of development.”

Washington is currently soliciting funding from its allies to ensure training and financing for Afghan armed forces after NATO combat troops leave – which it estimates could cost around $4 billion a year.

Apart from Afghanistan, both sides sought common ground, with Obama styling the partners as complimentary as cheeseburgers and French fries, though alarm over the euro zone tempered Hollande’s visit.

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