Germany appoints special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Pakistan's rugged tribal regions have been wracked by violence since becoming a stronghold for hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda rebels who fled across the border to escape the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Berlin -- Germany  followed the lead of the US and Britain on Monday in announcing the appointment of a special envoy for two countries increasingly seen as part of the same problem: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The appointment of Bernd Muetzelburg, currently Germany's ambassador to India, to the role will "further intensify Germany's diplomatic engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said the foreign ministry in Berlin.

American President Barack Obama last month named Richard Holbrooke as his special envoy to Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, which are collectively dubbed AfPak. He is tasked with implementing an integrated US strategy towards both countries.

Pakistan's rugged tribal regions have been wracked by violence since becoming a stronghold for hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda rebels who fled across the border to escape the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

The area has been at the heart of strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, which has accused ally Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Islamist militants from attacking international troops across the border.

Obama has called Afghanistan the main front in the "war on terror" and plans to send a further 30,000 troops, doubling the US military contingent fighting a Taliban-led insurgency alongside 50,000 NATO troops.

Germany is currently raising troop levels in Afghanistan to around 4,500 under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Most of Germany's soldiers are based in the relatively peaceful north.

Last Monday, Britain appointed Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles as its envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

AFP/Expatica

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