Hollande meets Obama, vows early Afghan pullout

French President Francois Hollande said that Paris is committed to providing assistance to Afghan security forces, but in a different way.

Washington: New French President Francois Hollande on Friday told his American counterpart Barack Obama that Paris is committed to providing assistance to Afghan security forces, but in a different way.

Hollande also said the two leaders share the same view on Iran. In fact, the two leaders share the same views on wide range of global issues.

In a joint press availability at the Oval Office of the White House, Hollande said he reminded Obama that he made a promise to the French people that their combat troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

"That being said, we will continue to support Afghanistan in a different way. We`ll seek a different format. All of that will be done with good understanding with our allies, within ISAF. And so we will continue and comply with our commitment to that country and supply some support, as I said, in a different way," Hollande said, adding the issue would be discussed in the NATO Summit in Chicago.

"We agreed that even as we transition out of a combat phase in Afghanistan that it`s important that we sustain our commitment to helping Afghans build security and continue down the path of development," Obama said.

"Much of our discussion centred on the situation in the eurozone, and President Hollande and I agree that this is an issue of extraordinary importance not only to the people of Europe, but also to the world economy. We are looking forward to a fruitful discussion with the other G8 leaders about how we can manage a responsible approach to fiscal consolidation that is coupled with a strong growth agenda," Obama said.

Obama said they also identified the issues of Iran and Syria, the transition that`s taking place in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, as topics of critical importance.

"We`ll be devoting extensive time to those issues throughout the G8 meeting. France has shown great leadership on these issues. And as I indicated to President Hollande, when the United States and France, along with our other key allies, make up our minds to stand firm on the side of democracy and freedom and development, that enormous progress can be made," he said.


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