German cabinet backs new Afghanistan mandate
The German cabinet decided on Tuesday that German Bundeswehr troops will remain in Afghanistan for the next 14 months instead of 12 months as originally planned.
The Bundeswehr contingent will also be boosted by 1,000 troops, the cabinet announced after a planned special meeting on the country’s role in the NATO military alliance's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Germany currently has some 3,500 troops stationed in northern Afghanistan who have become the target of an increasing number of insurgent attacks, making the cabinet’s decision difficult in the face of growing public opposition to the mission.
Ahead of the decision to extend the mandate, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that Germany should handle any discussion of the eventual withdrawalof the country's troops responsibly.
“The necessary work to persuade the people of German engagement won’t get any easier if one tries to throw sand in their eyes with hurried withdrawal dates,” Steinmeier told daily Leipziger Volkszeitung.
The Bundestag must still approve the new mandate in mid-October.