Following Obama Meeting, Franceâ€™s Hollande Promises Different Approach to Afghan Aid
President Obama welcomed new French President Francois Hollande to the White House on Friday, an initial meeting that came as world leaders feel a renewed sense of urgency to contain the European debt crisis.
The two leaders spoke for about 20 minutes in the Oval Office, covering such issues as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria â€” including Hollandeâ€™s pledge to draw down French combat troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year.
Franceâ€™s freshly inaugurated Socialist president, Francois Hollande, visits the White House Friday and plans to announce an early pullout of all French troops from Afghanistan by yearâ€™s end.
Obama is scheduled to head to Camp David on Friday evening to welcome the leaders of eight of the worldâ€™s richest countries, including Hollande, for the Group of Eight summit this weekend.
In brief remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, Hollande said he was committed to providing assistance to Afghan security but through alternative means. He added that he would discuss the subject further at the NATO summit in Chicago, which begins Sunday.
â€śI reminded President Obama that I made a promise to the French people to the effect that our combat troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012,â€ť Hollande said. â€śThat being said, we will continue to support Afghanistan in a different way. Weâ€™ll seek a different format. And all of that will be done with good understanding with our allies.â€ť
In past comments, Hollande at first said he would withdraw all the 3,400 French military personnel, but later specified he would pull out only combatants.