German defence minister sees ISAF troops in Afghanistan for years

3rd June 2008, Comments 0 comments

Franz Josef Jung expects the NATO-led deployment in Afghanistan to spend at least another five years there

Berlin -- International troops are likely to remain in Afghanistan for at least five and possibly 10 years, German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung indicated on Tuesday.

The Afghan military and police should be able to ensure security on their own within this timeframe, Jung told German national public broadcaster ZDF.

Only then could the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) begin to consider withdrawing its troops, Jung said.

The German defence minister declined to be drawn on a more precise timetable.

Germany has a maximum of 3,500 troops deployed to Afghanistan, most of them securing the relatively peaceful north of the country for reconstruction teams to operate.

There are six German Tornado reconnaissance aircraft assisting ISAF with operations against the Taliban.

On July 1st, German troops take over a rapid reaction function from Norway, providing combat troops for the Quick Reaction Force in the north.

While there is broad backing in parliament for the mission, a majority of Germans would prefer the troops to leave, opinion polls show.

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