In defiance of American wishes, he added that the early withdrawal of France’s soldiers from the region by the end of the year, a key policy of his recent election campaign, was “non-negotiable”.
He said he wanted France to remain involved in Afghanistan but “differently”, suggesting a more civil or economic role.
“The time for Afghan sovereignty has come,” he said in a speech to troops in Kabul in the presence of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
Hollande, who visited two French bases outside the Afghan capital, said he had come to Afghanistan to pay tribute to the soldiers and explain the reasons he had brought forward the date of their withdrawal to two years before the planned pullout of the rest of Nato‘s troops.
He was accompanied by Jean-Yves Le Drian, the new French defence minister, and Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister.
The French leader had reiterated his election pledge when he met Barack Obama at a Nato summit in Chicago earlier this week, said by observers to be the only note of discord in an otherwise cordial meeting between the two men.