French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that France would begin its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan next month and complete it by the end of the year.
Speaking after the death of four French soldiers in a Taliban attack, he said France would pay a “national homage” to the men. He added that the wounded will be repatriated rapidly.
The withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan is one of Hollande’s electoral promises. It “will begin in the month of July, will be carried out and end at the end of year 2012,” the French president said.
“In the meantime, everything must be done for our troops to meet their obligations but with the highest level of security and with the greatest vigilance for the lives of the soldiers.
“I am making this engagement here and I will be the guarantor for this operation.”
Some 3,500 French soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul and in the eastern Kapisa province where Saturday’s Taliban suicide attack occurred.
Three of the five soldiers wounded were in critical condition Saturday.