Biden: Berlin ‘dropped the ball’ in Afghanistan

Confidential US documents published by Wikileaks have revealed that Vice President Joe Biden believes Germany has completely failed to train Afghanistan's new police force properly.

Biden: Berlin 'dropped the ball' in Afghanistan
Photo: DPA

According to the secret cable from the US embassy in Santiago, Chile, Biden said: “Germany completely dropped the ball on police training but NATO countries should continue to provide assistance that is within their capacity to deliver.”

Spanish daily El Pais and German daily Die Welt first reported on the document dated April 3, 2009, in which it was reported that Biden made the disparaging remarks about Germany’s efforts to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown while the two were in Chile.

For the last eight years, Germany has been the main country in charge of police training in the unstable country.

The remarks were made during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Progressive Governance Leaders Summit on March 28 of that year.

Biden mentions Germany only that once in the report, but does refer to “European countries” who he worried had “underestimated the threat from the region and viewed the problem as an economic development issue rather than a security issue, despite the fact that Afghan opium is primarily exported to Europe and Europe has been the victim of several terrorist attacks originating from the region.”

Besides the UK and “a few others,” not many European countries had actively helped Washington combat the threats emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan, he added.

The latest bit of information comes as media sources continue to comb through the thousands of diplomatic documents after Sunday’s release by internet website Wikileaks. German-US relations have already been strained after other cables revealed descriptions of Chancellor Angela Merkel as uncreative and risk averse and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle as inept and vain.

Berlin embassy documents also reported that Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, in February 2010 that Westerwelle was preventing a US request for a Bundeswehr troop increase in Afghanistan.

Guttenberg was also reportedly critical of his boss, saying that Merkel struggled to put her economic policies in place.

The leaks also showed that US authorities were updated on German coalition negotiations in October 2009 by an informant within the junior coalition party, Westerwelle’s pro-business Free Democrats.

While some experts have said the cables contain nothing that hasn’t already been said by the German press, others have questioned whether the trust lost between the two countries can ever be restored.

The Local/ka

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