The French president François Hollande continued his whirlwind introduction to office yesterday with a snap visit to Afghanistan to defend his early withdrawal of French troops.
Mr Hollande met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul and visited some of the 3,400 French soldiers he plans to remove by the end of the year – 24 months ahead of the Nato timetable. "The mission of fighting terrorism and chasing out the Taliban is close to being accomplished and this is something we can be very proud of," Mr Hollande said.
At the Nato summit in Chicago this week, Mr Hollande faced muted criticism from France's partners for his "non-negotiable" election promise to remove French combat troops by the end of 2012. He confirmed that some French soldiers would remain to train Afghan forces.