NATO commits to Afghan pullout in spite of France
BRUSSELSNATO is committed to plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the alliance chief said Jan. 30 after France decided to end its fighting role a year earlier.
“We stick to the roadmap that was outlined at the NATO summit in Lisbon in Nov. 2010,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. Rasmussen did not directly address French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement Jan. 27 that his country would bring his forces home next year after four unarmed French troops were killed. Rasmussen said NATO expects the final transition of provinces and districts to Afghan lead responsibility by mid-2013. Britain and Germany have already indicated they would stick to the 2014 timeline. Socialist candidate Francois Hollandehas said that if elected this spring he hopes to withdraw French forces by the end of this year. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet is expected to explain his country’s decision at a meeting with NATO counterparts in Brussels tomorrow and Feb. 2.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.