BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the timetable laid out by Nato for international troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 must be respected.
“The principle which applies for the German government is: we entered (Afghanistan) together, we will leave together,” she said after comments by French president-elect Francois Hollande that he wanted to pull French troops out this year.
Merkel was addressing lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament ahead of a summit by Nato allies in the US city of Chicago on May 20-21.
“It will be a question during the Nato summit in Chicago of confirming in a concrete way the timetable fixed in 2010 in Lisbon for a withdrawal by the end of 2014,” Merkel added.
“The good news is that the process of handing over responsibility (to the Afghan authorities) is progressing as we had planned,” Merkel said.
France's 3,400 troops are the fifth largest contingent in the 130,000-strong US-led Nato force battling Taliban insurgents, but Kabul has downplayed the effect of their early departure.
Afghan forces are gradually taking over control of security in the country, with the goal of being in the lead nationwide next year and enabling most of the 130,000 foreign troops to leave by the end of 2014.
Germany is the third biggest troop supplier after the United States and Britain.