Obama, Hollande hold private meeting after G8

June 18, 2013 at 5:29 PM

LOUGH ERNE, Northern Ireland, June 18 (UPI) -- The handover of authority in Afghanistan was one of the major topics of a meeting Tuesday with French President Francois Hollande, U.S. President Obama said.

The two leaders had a private conversation after the Group of Eight meeting at the Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland. Obama, describing France as the "oldest ally" of the United States, said he and Hollande discussed a wide range of issues.

On Afghanistan, they discussed the announcement that local authorities are now taking the lead on security. And they talked about the announcement that the Taliban has opened an office in Qatar, regarded as a key step towards talks with the Afghan government, the White House said.

"Both President Hollande and I agree that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process is the best way to end the violence and to ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region," Obama said.

Obama said he congratulated Hollande for the effective French intervention in Mali.

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