Merkel says troops to stay in Afghanistan as Hollande moves to pull French out
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday pledged to keep her country’s troops in Afghanistan until the official Nato pull-out date at the end of 2014. Newly elected French President François Hollande has promised to bring French troops home this year.
"The principle which applies for the German government is: we entered together, we will leave together," she told the Bundestag.
Members of the Nato military alliance are to meet in Chicago on 20-21 May and Afghanistan will be on the agenda.
Merkel said that the summit will confirm “in a concrete way the timetable fixed in 2010 in Lisbon for a withdrawal by the end of 2014".
Despite widespread fears that Afghan forces will not be capable of maintaining security, Merkel insisted that “handing over responsibility is progressing as we planned”.
- There are 130,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan at the moment.
- Germany’s4,800-strong contingent is the third largest after the US and the UK.
- France’s 3,400-strong contingent is the fifth largest, Italy being the fourth.
- The US plans to keep about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after the Nato withdrawal.
The proposal to withdraw French troops this year was one of Hollande's few high-profile foreign policy commitments during the election. Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy had promised to bring them home in 2013.