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Merkel to defend Afghanistan mission

DPA/The Local · 19 Apr 2010, 13:32

Published: 19 Apr 2010 13:32 GMT+02:00

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The speech to the Bundestag on Thursday would make it clear that the policy of fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan remained firmly in place, Chancellery Chief of Staff Ronald Pofalla told broadcaster ZDF.

“The price is terrible,” he admitted, adding that the mission remained, as before, “exceedingly dangerous.”

The news came as the Office of the Federal Prosecutor announced it was winding up its investigation of the Kunduz airstrike that was ordered by a German commander and killed dozens of civilians.

The investigation of commander Georg Klein decided no breach of international or German law had taken place. The decision effectively gives greater certainty to German troops stationed in Afghanistan that they will not be pursued for war crimes.

Pofalla, meanwhile, said Merkel wanted to use the address to make clear “that we are still pursuing the policy of a ‘handover of responsibility’ and that we value tremendously the work of our soldiers.”

The government wanted to stay the course in its Afghanistan policy, despite public shock over the two recent attacks by Taliban fighters that have left seven German soldiers dead.

“We don’t intend to change that position,” he said.

Merkel made similar addresses to parliament following the German-ordered Kunduz air strike last September that killed dozens of civilians and ahead of the January Afghanistan conference in London.

Four Bundeswehr soldiers were killed and five seriously wounded last Thursday when Taliban fighters hit their armoured vehicle with a rocket launcher. Another three Germans were killed and eight injured on Good Friday when their convoy was ambushed.

The German troops stationed near Masar-i-Sharif in the northern province of Baghlan as part of the international ISAF force held a memorial on Sunday the remains of the four recently killed soldiers.

All four soldiers came from southern Germany, where there will be another service held on Friday. Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg will attend the service.

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At the Masar-i-Sharif memorial service, Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Volker Wieker and the commander of the German troops in Afghanistan, Brigadier Frank Leidenberger stressed that the soldiers would keep fighting.

“The fact remains: We won’t back down. We will fight on. And we will win,” said Leidenberger.

Wieker warned that it was part of the Taliban’s “strategic goal” to influence the debate in Germany about the Bundeswehr deployment.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:40 April 19, 2010 by wenddiver
Good for General Leidenberger, just what the Troops needed to hear. Nothing shakes the Troops up like watching the leadership flinch.
17:36 April 19, 2010 by scout1067
I think it is great the Germany is stepping up and making the hard choice to continue the fight in the face of losses. Good for them, its about time they shed the image of Jackbooted thugs and are recognized as a nation like any other that wants to contribute to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
17:53 April 19, 2010 by mixxim
I wonder whether she would be as happy to sacrifice young soldier's lives if she had a son serving there.
12:36 April 20, 2010 by whizzbizz
So, pleeeeeeeeeeeeze, tell me what this war is for????????? Any ideas except for oil pipelines across Afghanistan?
02:21 April 25, 2010 by Hibernicus
This disgraceful war should be ended immediately and all foreign troops should be withdrawn from the country. Alexander the Great failed to conquer Afghanistan and General Leidenberger is no Alexander the Great.

The British had two bloody wars there in the 19th Century and also failed to hold the country. More than 10,000 Irish died there in these colonial wars. Do the Germans now want to send 10,000 of their soldiers to die there as well? In a recent poll in Britain, 77% said they wanted British troops withdrawn forthwith, yet the so-called "democratic" politicians continue to ignore the wishes of the people. From what I've seen in Germany there is no popular support for this war there either.

The NATO so-called "mission" is a fraud and a cover for US attempts to provide a base for its global power projections directed against Iran, Russia and China.
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