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Germany sends 200 soldiers to Afghanistan

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15:22 CET+01:00
Germany is to send an extra 200 soldiers to Afghanistan as part of a NATO Rapid Reaction Force. The troops will be based in northern Afghanistan, replacing 250 Norwegian troops who have been there fore two years this summer. Despite substantial pressure from the US and NATO, Germany will not send soldiers to southern Afghanistan to fight the Taliban insurgency.

"I want to make clear that we will continue our mission in the north which I think our soldiers are carrying out very successfully," German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said at a news conference in Berlin. "The regional division of responsibilities is clever and right. Neglecting the north would be a decisive mistake. But I repeat that if friends are in trouble we will of course help them."

The US and UK have put pressure on Germany, along with other partner countries, to become more strongly engaged in Afghanistan. Jung said a focus on training rather than increasing the numbers of troops present in Afghanistan would be the best strategy. Only 110 out of the approximately 3,300 German troops in Afghanistan have received the proper security force training from the army and police.

The majority of the north Afghan population feels more secure as a result of the presence of foreign troops. According to an investigation carried out by Freien Universität Berlin in north-eastern Afghanistan, 76 percent of the population feels that security has greatly improved with the presence of foreign troops.

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