Berlin sends roadmakers, not troops, to south Afghanistan

24th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2006, Kabul (dpa) - Under pressure within NATO to deploy fighting troops to southern Afghanistan, Berlin intends instead to build a key road to help modernize one of the most turbulent areas, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Friday. German engineers would begin work on the 4.5-kilometre road before a NATO summit opens on Tuesday in Riga, Latvia, the sources said, adding that the German government had approved the 1-million-euro (1.3-million-dollar) project in Kandahar province. In Be

24 November 2006

Kabul (dpa) - Under pressure within NATO to deploy fighting troops to southern Afghanistan, Berlin intends instead to build a key road to help modernize one of the most turbulent areas, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Friday.

German engineers would begin work on the 4.5-kilometre road before a NATO summit opens on Tuesday in Riga, Latvia, the sources said, adding that the German government had approved the 1-million-euro (1.3-million-dollar) project in Kandahar province.

In Berlin, Jens Ploetner, deputy foreign ministry spokesman, said the road project was in the "planning stage" and a decision could not yet be announced, but, "The talks are going in that direction."

The road would be a spur from the main highway linking Herat and Kabul via Kandahar, the sources said. From an intersection 15 kilometres west of Kandahar town it would lead into Panjwai district. The construction plan foresees completion in about three months.

There have been clashes in recent months in Panjwai between the Taliban and the ISAF international peacekeeping force.

An ISAF offensive began in September to rid the district of insurgents, with several ISAF troops and hundreds of insurgents killed. Many civilians died during bombing by western forces.

Analysts said Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was likely to announce the project in Riga.

In an interview published Friday by a newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, she rejected the calls to send German troops from the relatively calm north to help British, Canadian and Dutch forces fighting insurgents in the south.

She said operations in the south could not be confined to the military components.

Alliance officials say NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is insisting that allies lift national restrictions on how troops can be used and deployed in Afghanistan.

NATO experts say alliance members with troops in Afghanistan have imposed more than 100 caveats - spanning up to 17 pages - on the use and movement of their soldiers.

Germany currently has more than 2,900 military personnel in Afghanistan, the third-largest contingent in ISAF (International Security and Assistance Force). Germany's legislature has authorized the troops to only leave their zone of the deployment in the north and in Kabul in emergencies and for short durations, not permanently.

Over 30,000 soldiers from 37 nations - including non-NATO countries - are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

NATO is attempting to create "zones of development" in the south and clear them of Taliban so that the international community can then move in to visibly improve amenities and win the "hearts and minds" of the local Afghans.

Popular support for the Taliban is said to have soared in the south because of the failure to bring prosperity in the past five years. The Islamist insurgency has cost more than 3,700 lives so far this year, four times the death toll of 2005.

The road project would mark the beginning of focused German development aid to the south, with other projects being examined, the sources said. The road would be built by Germany's civilian development agency, GTZ.

Germany would fund the road project out of an existing Foreign Ministry budget line for the Afghan stability pact, the sources said.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article