German foreign minister in Afghanistan

9th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, the foreign ministry said, ahead of a parliamentary vote in Berlin this month on extending the unpopular mission.

Westerwelle, arriving in Kabul following a visit to neighbouring Pakistan, was due to meet President Hamid Karzai and Afghan Foreign Minister Salmai Rassul, a spokesman told AFP.

Germany's 4,600 troops, the third-biggest contingent, are based mostly in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan, where the situation has become more dangerous of late. Forty-five German soldiers have died there.

Westerwelle told parliament in December that the German government wanted to start reducing troop numbers in Afghanistan by the end of 2011 with a view to pulling out of the country completely by 2014.

© 2011 AFP

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