• Germany's news in English

Steinmeier plans to end Afghan ops by 2013

The Local · 13 Sep 2009, 12:59

Published: 13 Sep 2009 12:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

His ministry released the two-page paper with his permission, according to Der Spiegel magazine on Sunday, outlining the closure of the first army base by 2011 – to replaced by 1,500 new policemen in the Kunduz region.

“In the next legislature period it is about establishing the foundations for withdrawal from Afghanistan,” the paper says. “We have to set the course now.”

Steinmeier’s plan was released just hours before he was due to face Chancellor Angela Merkel in a televised debate on Sunday evening.

He is the chancellor candidate for the Social Democratic Union (SPD) for the national election on September 27, as well as Foreign Minister.

The release is likely to awake suspicions that he is looking for a quick political boost, particularly after it was confirmed that Sunday is the only time Merkel will take part in such a debate.

Steinmeier’s plan says that future reconstruction efforts would require “concrete, binding aims and at the same time effective precautions to monitor their implementation.”

The next conference on Afghanistan, which Merkel wants to schedule for later in the year, must come up with more specific decisions and no longer “be satisfied with vague targets,” the paper says.

The focus should be on building up the Afghan police force so that all 122 districts controlled by Germany in the north of the country have a sufficiently trained police force by 2011, the paper goes on.

In Kunduz, a particularly problematic area, this would mean a further 1,500 police officers.

The first step of the German withdrawal has not only been given a time limit, but also a location – the 500 German soldiers currently on duty in Faizabad will be sent home by 2011 and their base turned into a training centre for security forces and local administration.

Story continues below…

Steinmeier’s former boss, ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder, sparked discussion over a potential German withdrawal date early this month, receiving heavy criticism for saying that German troops should be home by 2015 at the latest.

Steinmeier himself rejected Schröder’s suggestion, saying he did not want to set a specific date for German withdrawal. He also said that Schröder's time-frame was too short. Both Steinmeier and party leader Franz Müntefering said the idea of setting a date would be counterproductive on the ground.

But last week German operations in Afghanistan came under heavy international criticism after a German officer called in an airstrike on hijacked petrol tankers which may have resulted in the deaths of many civilians. NATO is currently investigating the incident.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd