Hollande to officially announce early withdrawal of French forces from Afghanistan at NATO summit

Francois Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, March 8, 2012

From Ben Farmer, the TelegraphAnders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, said he would speak with the new French president immediately amid concerns France would soon announce the withdrawal of its 3,600-strong contingent. . . .

Barack Obama is also likely to appeal to Mr Hollande to remain in Afghanistan after inviting the new French president for talks at the White House. . . .

Any decision on an early French pull-out would need to be agreed with its allies at the Nato summit in Chicago later this month.

Manuel Valls, Mr Hollande’s communications director, confirmed that France would use the summit to "announce the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan between now and the end of the year."

French diplomats in Kabul also expected Mr Hollande to fulfil his pledge, though there were doubts that France could remove all its materiel from the country in time.  (photo: Reuters)

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