NATO and US merger in Afghanistan rejected

13th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN - German Defence Minister Peter Struck Tuesday repeated his rejection of a merger of NATO peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan with U.S. troops engaged in fighting terrorists.

BERLIN - German Defence Minister Peter Struck Tuesday repeated his rejection of a merger of NATO peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan with U.S. troops engaged in fighting terrorists.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was a "protection and aid" mission that enjoyed wide acceptance among the local population, Struck told German radio.

He was speaking as a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers got underway in Berlin.

By contrast, Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, was encountering opposition from certain groups, Struck said.

NATO troops should not be exposed to additional dangers, Stuck said, adding that a "critical situation could arise very quickly".

The informal talks in Berlin are aimed at reviewing the alliance's expanding role in Afghanistan and efforts to give the 26-nation military organization a more political role.

Plans for a full merger of the 8,000 ISAF troops and the 20,000 troops in Operation Enduring Freedom have been rejected by several NATO countries.

The ministers were also discussing NATO's more modest security training mission.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov meets his NATO counterparts Wednesday for talks expected to focus on joint action to fight drugs trafficking in Afghanistan.

DPA

Subject: German news

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