Berlin, NATO consider broader role in Afghanistan

10th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 February 2005, NICE - NATO planned to increase the area of its responsibility in Afghanistan by deploying its troops into the west of the country, German Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Thursday. "It is clear that NATO has been very successful in Afghanistan," Struck said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers. "Now, it is beginning its second stage, in the west."

10 February 2005

NICE - NATO planned to increase the area of its responsibility in Afghanistan by deploying its troops into the west of the country, German Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Thursday.

"It is clear that NATO has been very successful in Afghanistan," Struck said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers. "Now, it is beginning its second stage, in the west."

Earlier, Struck said that Germany was prepared to broaden its military responsibility in Afghanistan.

Speaking on the margins the meeting Struck said that German troops could assume the responsibility for northern Afghanistan, and "perhaps take over a small region in the north" in case Britain removed its troops there.

Currently, the 8,500 NATO troops have been deployed primarily in northern Afghanistan. Now, Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian troops will reportedly secure civilian reconstruction in the west.

In a third phase of NATO's mission, troops are to be deployed in the south of Afghanistan as well, Struck said.

Struck also said that disagreements over the war in Iraq were no longer an issue in NATO.

"Past discussions over Iraq have been forgotten," he said. "We are all looking ahead, also those who criticized us because of our position."

On Wednesday, at a dinner with his NATO colleagues in Nice, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed understanding for Europe's doubts over the Iraq war, EU diplomats said.

He also renounced the "old Europe" description he had applied to France, Germany and other European countries who did not join the US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein.

In indicating Germany was prepared to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, Struck said that such a move would have to be approved by the German Parliament, the Bundestag.

There are no plans to add to the 2,250 German soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan, said Struck, who is scheduled to meet Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Germany will continue training Iraqi troops and police officers outside the country, mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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