France has done ‘its duty’ in Afghanistan: Hollande
CHICAGO — French President Francois Hollande said Monday his country had done “more than its duty” in Afghanistan, as officials said a calendar to pull out troops would be drawn up in the coming days.
Hollande also denied that France would have to make some kind of payback for pulling out its troops by the end of 2012 — a year earlier than planned.
“There is no compensation to pay or even to be thought of. We have done more than our duty and I remind everyone of French losses: 83 men lost their lives, there have been numerous wounded,” Hollande told journalists.
“I want to pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice,” he added, at the end of a two-day NATO summit. “We consider our mission in terms of action and combat is finished.”
The new French president reiterated that “combat troops will be withdrawn at the end of 2012″ adding that some “military” elements would stay on Afghan soil for training Afghan police and soldiers and to help “repatriate our materiel.”
An aide to the president said the calendar for the withdrawal of the French troops from Afghanistan would be drawn up “in the next 10 days.”
Hollande also said that as a NATO member France was being asked to contribute to the Afghan security forces budget of $4.1 billion a year from 2015.
“We have not replied. In principle we can look at it, but we haven’t fixed a sum, and we are not bound by what Germany and other countries may do,” he said.
“We have set a condition, which is to know if these eventual contributions will be effectively controled,” Hollande added.