French President Francois Hollande said May 21 that France won’t necessarily contribute money for Afghanistan’s military, again marking a break with key NATO partners as the alliance moves to hand over security control in the country starting in 2015.
In a final news conference at a summit of the Atlantic alliance, the new French leader confirmed that the United States had asked France for “a little less” than $200 million for Afghanistan.
Hollande – who took office last week – has been cautious about state spending amid France’s high state debts. He also set conditions for any French aid for the Afghan military, saying Paris would need assurances that such use of such money would be closely monitored.
The announcement was the latest sign of Hollande’s reluctance about doing more for Afghanistan during his term. He rankled some allies in NATO over his plan to bring home French combat troops by year-end – two years ahead of the alliance’s timetable.
Germany has committed to providing $190 million per year, and Britain has pledged $110 million.
“As for after 2014, we have been asked – like all the partners – for a contribution. We haven’t responded, simply saying that on principle we’re going to look at it,” Hollande said. “We haven’t set an amount. We are not bound by what Germany or other countries might do. And we have one condition, which is to know how these eventual contributions would be monitored.”
Hollande has said that French military logistics teams and trainers for Afghan police and top military brass would remain in Afghanistan into next year, part of a previously agreed bilateral agreement with Afghanistan – but had not previously indicated a pullout date for them.