CHICAGO - French President Francois Hollande said on Monday France had been asked to contribute a little less than $200 million for long-term funding to Afghanistan, but he signalled there would be no commitments until Paris knew how the money would be managed.
The US administration is unwilling to foot the entire annual bill to maintain Afghan forces after 2014, which is estimated at $4.1 billion, and has been seeking pledges from allies of $1.3 billion, despite austerity measures brought on by Europe's financial crisis. "We will study the request for funding," Hollande said. "But we have put a condition to it which is to know whether these contributions will be efficiently managed."
Germany already has committed $190 million and Britain $110 million. "We haven't set a fixed amount but we are not tied to what Germany or any other country does," Hollande said. Paris will make a decision on its contributions by July.
Socialist Hollande vowed at the summit to stick to his election pledge to withdraw French troops by the year's end - two years earlier than the NATO timetable. Hollande's team has yet to give a detailed timeline of its exit plans, although diplomatic sources said the president planned to provide the calendar within the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, New Zealand is to pull its troops out of Afghanistan next year, a year ahead of schedule, because its job is done, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Tuesday.
McCully said the 140-strong reconstruction team (PRT) operating in Afghanistan's Bamyan province will formally end its mission at the end of the year and be brought home in 2013.
"The New Zealand-led PRT has done an excellent job in Bamyan, reflected in the province being selected amongst the first tranche for transition," McCully said in a statement released at the NATO summit on Afghanistan.
New Zealand has had troops in Afghanistan since 2001, including a detachment of elite Special Air Services (SAS) troops, which ended its mission in March.
Five New Zealand soldiers have been killed on service, while one SAS member received the country's highest bravery award, the Victoria Cross.
McCully said a small number of officers would be offered to help train the Afghan military, and aid would continue for some reconstruction projects.