The French President François Hollande has made a surprise flying visit to Afghanistan.
Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, had already informed NATO French forces would be leaving the country a year ahead of schedule in 2013. Now Hollande is bringing that date forward to the end of this year.
Speaking to French troops at the Nijrab base, north-east of Kabul, Hollande said the withdrawal would be conducted “intelligently” and would be fully co-ordinated with France’s allies.
He added that US President Barack Obama understood France’s reasons for leaving, but that development projects would continue.
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