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Berlin sending 500 extra troops to Afghanistan

AFP · 26 Jan 2010, 18:45

Published: 26 Jan 2010 11:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Jan 2010 18:45 GMT+01:00

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Merkel said the troop increase was part of a "completely new" approach to cooperating with the Afghan government which aimed to see Kabul take responsibility for the security of the country as soon as possible.

"We have developed a complete package for our future engagement ... which takes it to a new level, namely a new phase in handing responsibility to the Afghan government," Merkel said in Berlin ahead of the arrival of Afghan President Hamid Karzai for talks. "There can be no security without reconstruction, but on the other hand there can be no reconstruction without security."

The chancellor said Berlin would also provide €50 million to a $500-million international fund to bring insurgents into the mainstream, and roughly double development aid to €430 million.

German troops currently form the third-largest contingent in the 110,000-strong international force behind the United States and Britain, with the upper limit capped by parliament at 4,500 soldiers.

Berlin currently has around 4,300 troops in the struggling country, the bulk of them in the north.

With the addition of 350 extra reservists, who could be deployed for a limited period of time, the upper limit for Germany would rise to around 5,350 troops.

Berlin stressed that it would begin this year to hand over responsibilities to the Afghan government this year, and that it wanted its soldiers to start coming home in 2011 - a target shared by US President Barack Obama.

"In the next four years we want to create the conditions to enable our military presence to be wound down gradually ... We want to begin this year, step by step," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

Merkel noted, however, that the plans did not include setting a fixed date for the complete withdrawal of Germany's troops in the country.

Asked how Germany's new commitments would be received by the US administration, which is pressing its allies to back its "surge" of 30,000 more US soldiers, Merkel said she was comfortable with the new offer.

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"It was not the case that the Americans asked us what we wanted to do but rather we determined ourselves what we intend to do," he said.

"I think that if Germany plans to train at least one-third of the police forces in Afghanistan, if it doubles what it is doing in terms of civil reconstruction and we make our entire approach more effective and harmonise it with the international community, plus adds 500 troops and a flexible reserve of 350 troops, then we have nothing to be ashamed of," she said.

Her comments came ahead of a two-day visit to Berlin by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is making the stop over ahead of his appearance at the London conference.

Karzai, under pressure from his Western backers to tackle rampant corruption, hopes for Western support at the conference for his strategy of wooing Taliban fighters with the lure of jobs and money.

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Your comments about this article

14:05 January 26, 2010 by Frenemy

Well then you'd be wrong. You should be thinking more along the lines of:

14:53 January 26, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Be weeeewwwy weeewwwyyy quiwwweeettt. I'm huntin' wwaabbbittss.

16:49 January 26, 2010 by LancashireLad
I'm actually aghast at the naivety of the "cash for pardon" idea. It's probably true that some of the taliban fighters were lured for economic reasons, but this isn't the solution.

I can see what'll happen. Taliban fighters will "realign" and as soon as they have signed on the dotted line, they'll be sending information back to their taliban commanders - and be getting paid more for it.
17:39 January 26, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Well give credit where credit is due, there's a lot of resistance in Germany to doing the right thing, equal parts angst and historical reservation. Kudos to Merkel for acting on the certainty that western civilization is under attack and to stick Germany's head in the sand would be catastrophic.
19:11 January 26, 2010 by Major B
"I think that if Germany plans to train at least one-third of the police forces in Afghanistan, if it doubles what it is doing in terms of civil reconstruction ... plus adds 500 troops and a flexible reserve of 350 troops, then we have nothing to be ashamed of," she(Chancelor Merkel) said.

Good points "Iron" Chancelor Merkel. Grade of C for overall effort -- 500 too low, but you have super tough politics to contend with.

Good photos Freenemy and Der Grenadier!!
23:53 January 26, 2010 by wxman
Hey Prufrock, Obama said this was the "good war". Wassup??
07:42 January 27, 2010 by SilberFuchs
500? That's way too many! 50 will do if you stage them right for the photo-ops. After they march down the road, bring them around the back again ;-)
12:28 January 27, 2010 by Frenemy
word to the wise: 500 = "regulars", not "black ops" (read "dudes that actually make a difference")...those guys aren't really "on the books"!!!
21:44 January 27, 2010 by fair1day
My son would call in July, Aug and Sept from other places and Omar Zai, Afghanistan to say the Taliban/Al alQaida make local farmers grow poppies to fund their war effort. Not nice people there! If you don't grow poppies they blow you up. Women have no rights. They beg us to stay there. Military control of the region is imperative. Wake up Europe.

Rod Reynolds-(father)

Sgt Titus R Reynolds-US Army-(son)

KIA, 9/24/09 Omar Zai, Afghanistan
16:42 January 28, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@ wxman

"Hey Prufrock, Obama said this was the "good war". Wassup??"

Obama was wrong.
10:11 February 1, 2010 by Frenemy

BLASPHEMY!! Just you bite your tongue! Thou shalt not criticize Obama (what?? ya'll didn't get that memo???)
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