Berlin to keep troops in Afghanistan after NATO withdrawal

26th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany will keep troops in Afghanistan after NATO forces leave the country at the end of 2014, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the Bild am Sonntag paper in an interview to be published Sunday.

Troops remaining would concentrate on the training of Afghan forces, the minister said.

They "would be sufficiently armed so as to be able to defend themselves" but "it won't be about having troops for combat," said De Maiziere.

Berlin currently has 5,350 soldiers in Afghanistan, a number which will reduce to 4,900 as Germany starts withdrawing its forces ahead of NATO's 2014 deadline for the transferral of security control to Afghan forces.

After the US and Britain, German soldiers are the third largest NATO troop contingent in Afghanistan.

The decade-long war was the first major deployment of German troops abroad since the Second World War and has not been welcomed by a majority of public opinion.

© 2011 AFP

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