German troop mandate in Afghanistan extended

21st September 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 September 2005, BERLIN - The outgoing German cabinet Wednesday extended the mandate of German troops operating in Afghanistan by one year, but stuck by its policy of not becoming involved in curbing illegal drug production and trade, Defence Minister Peter Struck said.

21 September 2005

BERLIN - The outgoing German cabinet Wednesday extended the mandate of German troops operating in Afghanistan by one year, but stuck by its policy of not becoming involved in curbing illegal drug production and trade, Defence Minister Peter Struck said.

Struck said he had a mandate to increase the number of German troops operating with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from the current 2,250 to 3,000.

Nevertheless, he had no intention of doing so at present, he said after the German cabinet met for the first time since Sunday's elections.

"It's not clear when we will be able to end the engagement in Afghanistan," Struck said.

He rejected demands from the Left Party, which secured close to 10 per cent in the elections, more than doubling its support, for Germany to withdraw its troops.

"I regard it as totally irresponsible for German troops to be removed from Afghanistan. This would open the gates to terrorism," Struck said, adding that such a move would isolate Germany internationally.

Struck underlined that German armed forces would not get involved in the fight against drug production and the drugs trade.

This was a task for the Afghans and the British, who are leading the battle to curb opium production, he said.

Struck refused to comment on the deployment of elite troops from Germany's crack KSK unit operating with the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom against the Taleban and al-Qaeda in the south of Afghanistan.

The Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, is expected to approve the renewed mandate by a large majority when it meets in its pre-election form on September 28.

While the composition of Germany's new government remains uncertain, it is regarded as certain to continue current German policy in Afghanistan.

ISAF currently has around 12,000 troops operating mainly around Kabul, as well as in the relatively peaceful north and west.

The United States has some 18,000 troops in Afghanistan and has put pressure on ISAF to expand its operations, so that the U.S. forces can be partially withdrawn.

DPA

Subject: German news

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