Com­mit­ted to Leave

Southasia - - Briefing -

French Pres­i­dent, Fran­cois Hol­lande, re­cently vis­ited French troops in Afghanistan and re­it­er­ated his cam­paign prom­ise to with­draw all troops by the end of the year. Hol­lande ar­rived in Afghanistan with his de­fense and for­eign min­is­ters and af­ter meet­ing with troops, held a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Karzai. Though the pull­out will be com­pli­cated, Hol­lande has al­ready or­dered to with­draw 2000 troops by this year but has specif­i­cally guar­an­teed French com­mit­ment to pro­vide sup­port in other ways that in­clude train­ing and co­op­er­a­tion in cul­ture, health and ed­u­ca­tion.

Though the pace of with­drawal has not yet been de­cided, Hol­lande al­le­vi­ated NATO con­cerns at the re­cent con­fer­ence in Chicago, stat­ing that with­drawal will be done in an orderly fash­ion keep­ing in line with NATO poli­cies, thereby not dis­rupt­ing the orig­i­nal with­drawal strat­egy sched­uled for 2014.

A to­tal of 83 French sol­diers have been killed in Afghanistan since the mis­sion started in 2001. At one point, France con­trib­uted al­most 4,000 of the 130,000 troops in the U.S.-led In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force in Afghanistan, mak­ing it the fourth-largest con­tin­gent. The ma­jor­ity of French sol­diers are sta­tioned in Ni­jrab and 600 will be re­placed with Afghan sol­diers when forces start to with­draw.

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