Increase in troops in Afghanistan possible

23rd July 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 July 2007, Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she could not rule out an increase in Germany's military deployment to Afghanistan, but could "not yet confirm this at the present time."

23 July 2007

Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she could not rule out an increase in Germany's military deployment to Afghanistan, but could "not yet confirm this at the present time."

Interviewed on Germany's ARD public television, she said any alteration in troop strength would have to "fit in with" the rest of the German military commitment in Afghanistan.

She is scheduled to seek parliamentary authorization in October to extend the current deployment, which comprises troops providing security and civilian reconstruction aid in the mainly peaceful north and air force jets flying reconnaissance over fighting in the south.

Merkel said she would discuss the future shape of the force with Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Currently Germany has 3,150 military personnel in Afghanistan under the parliamentary authorization.

An separate force of German commandoes is serving in the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) against the Taliban.

"We need all three components," said Merkel, adding that Germany also had an obligation to its allies.

"It is important to keep the military operations interlocked with the civilian reconstruction work," she said, adding that she would discuss this on Tuesday with visiting United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs.

Merkel also defended her interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has mused aloud about needing special powers to cope with an attack on Germany by Islamist terrorists.

"It's legitimate for the interior minister to focus on the novelty of the threat and to discuss it," she said. "We are not through with this threat yet."

Merkel said she would discuss a fresh definition of federal police powers against terrorist attack after the German government's upcoming summer break.

DPA

Subject: German news

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