All French combat forces will pull out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, France's new president said during a visit to Kabul yesterday.

Francois Hollande said that France's troops have carried out their mission in Afghanistan and it is time for them to leave.

"There will be no combat troops after the end of the year," Mr Hollande said during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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Mr Hollande flew to Afghanistan to meet troops and discuss plans with Mr Karzai to withdraw combat troops more than a year earlier than scheduled.

Mr Hollande said France will withdraw its 2000 combat troops, out of a total of 3300, by the end of the year. Some are to remain to help train the Afghan army and police.

During an earlier meeting with French troops at a base to the north of the city, Mr Hollande said: "The time for Afghan sovereignty has come. The terrorist threat that targeted our territory, while it hasn't totally disappeared, is in part lessened."