French President Francois Hollande said Friday that a promised withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year was "not negotiable."
Hollande was speaking to reporters just hours ahead of the start of G8 summit at Camp David outside Washington and a NATO summit due to take place in Chicago on Sunday and Monday. Both meetings will address the way forward in Afghanistan.
"The withdrawal is not negotiable. The withdrawal of combat forces is France's decision and this decision will be implemented," he said.
"I am aware that France is part of an alliance, that it has been involved in operations for a long time and must therefore make its decisions in harmony with its allies, including our American partners."
He noted that in the northeastern province of Kapisa, Afghan security forces will take over security operations from French troops, "thus allowing the withdrawal to take place."
"Beyond the end of 2012, our residual forces will simply be tasked with logistics to bring home our equipment... but under the protection of NATO forces," said Hollande, adding that he had spoken by telephone with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The French-Afghan treaty signed early this year by Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy will be ratified, honoring planned training support for Afghan police and military forces, the French president said.
"Training missions, namely for the Afghan police and army, those missions will also take place under NATO's auspices," he explained.
Hollande, a Socialist who took office just three days ago, met with President Barack Obama at the White House. He reminded the US leader of France's withdrawal plans but added that Paris would provide support in other ways.
The French pledge to withdraw their 3,500 troops from Afghanistan a year ahead of schedule, adds a further complication to NATO's carefully crafted plan to turn over security to Afghans in 2014.