Hollande flies into Afghanistan for lightning visit

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Hollande flies into Afghanistan for lightning visit

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New French President François Hollande has made a surprise flying visit to Afghanistan.

Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, had already informed NATO that French forces would be leaving the country in 2013, a year ahead of schedule. Now Holland is bringing that date forward to the end of this year, and brought that message in person to Kabul and President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking to French troops at Nijrab base north-east of Kabul, Hollande said the withdrawal would be conducted “intelligently” and would be fully co-ordinated with France’s allies.

Holland made it clear that President Barack Obama understood France’s reasons for leaving, but that development projects would continue.