Merkel to be firm on Afghanistan mission at NATO summit

Six years since the initial deployment of German troops to Afghanistan, politicians in Berlin have started to speak of a gradual withdrawal. A defence ministry official also says that Germany will not cave to US pressure to expand its presence there.

Merkel to be firm on Afghanistan mission at NATO summit
Photo: DPA

Christian Schmidt, state secretary in the defence ministry, told German news agency DPA that, despite massive pressure expected from the US and other partners at the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest, the federal government will not make any concessions with regard to its commitment in Afghanistan.

“The chancellor will not be going there with a bag full of goodies,” Schmidt said.

Politicians in Berlin are calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to address a timeline for the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan at the Bucharest summit.

“A quick withdrawal would be wrong, but an intermediate step is needed,” Rainer Arnold (SPD) told DPA. He added that this could involve one last influx of additional troops to speed up the training of Afghan soldiers so that German soldiers could return home faster.

According to a report in Britain’s The Times, France is expected to ask for an additional commitment of between 1,000 and 2,900 troops to be stationed in eastern or southern Afghanistan to help in the fight against Taliban rebels.

With some 3,500 soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, Germany has the third largest deployment after the US and the UK. Bundeswehr soldiers have been focusing on security training for local Afghan soldiers, police officers and justice officials.