Germany to leave Afghanistan in 'five to 10 years'

2nd July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The German defence minister also said he was "utterly convinced" that the Allied strategy in Afghanistan would lead to success.

Berlin -- German troops could be out of Afghanistan within five to 10 years, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said in a television interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Asked on German rolling news channel N24 whether troops would leave the war-torn country by 2020, Jung said: "I assume so. In five to 10 years – that is my message."

"The quicker we push forward with training (Afghan police and security forces), the quicker we will achieve our goal," added the minister.

He said he was "utterly convinced" that the Allied strategy would lead to success.

"And success means that Afghanistan must be in a position to look after its own security. That is our goal."

To achieve this, he said the Afghans needed some 134,000 trained security forces and around the same number of police.

"Security-wise, the capital Kabul has already been handed over to Afghanistan. And our plan is now to transfer control to the Afghans district by district," Jung said.

Some 3,700 German troops are fighting in Afghanistan, where they form part of the 60,000-strong International Security Assistance Force led by NATO and made up of troops from 42 nations.

The mission is extremely unpopular in Germany and 35 troops have died since 2002 despite being based in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan.

In the most recent incident, three soldiers between the ages of 21 and 23 died last week when their armoured vehicle overturned while reversing during a firefight with insurgents near the northern town of Kunduz.

Germany's contingent is being raised to up to 4,400 ahead of Afghanistan's presidential elections in August.

Despite representing the third-largest contingent behind Britain and the United States, Berlin has come under fire for not contributing enough to the war in Afghanistan.


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