German defence minister visits Afghanistan

26th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany's Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrived in Afghanistan for a two-day visit Saturday, the day after lawmakers in Berlin backed providing German crews for surveillance planes there, his office said.

It was de Maiziere's first trip to Afghanistan since taking over from Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who quit in disgrace on March 1.

The German parliament Friday agreed to a NATO request to supply air crew for AWACS aircraft operating in Afghanistan to free up NATO resources for enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya.

Germany is the third-largest provider of troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in a mission that polls show is deeply unpopular at home.

Berlin decided not to participate in the military action against Moamer Khadafi's regime and abstained on the United Nations resolution that established the no-fly zone.

Parliament decided up to 300 German servicemen can be deployed to operate the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) planes as long as the 5,350-troop limit on Germany's Afghanistan contingent is not exceeded.

De Maiziere's ministry said he would have talks during his stay with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the commmander of the international forces battling the Taliban insurgency, General David Petraeus.

© 2011 AFP

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