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Socialist vows early French exit from Afghanistan

PARIS (AP) — The presidential nominee for the leading opposition Socialist Party is promising to pull out all of France’s troops in Afghanistan by the start of 2013 — nearly a year ahead of the current schedule.

Francois Hollande told BFM-TV on Monday that "our intervention has reached its end" and "by the end of 2012, (or) early 2013, no more French troops will be in Afghanistan if I’m elected president. "

Polls show Hollande leading President Nicolas Sarkozy in a head-to-head matchup. The conservative Sarkozy is widely expected to run in next spring’s election even though he hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet.

About 4,000 French troops are taking part in NATO-led operations in the country. Sarkozy has plans to withdraw them all by 2014 — with 400 to leave by year-end.

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