Merkel to send 500 more troops to Afghanistan
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Germany will send 500 more troops to Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said two days before a London conference on the international mission. Merkel said the increase was part of a "new" approach to cooperating with the Afghan government.
AFP - Germany plans to send 500 more troops to Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday, two days before a London conference on the international mission's future.
Merkel said the troop hike was part of a "completely new" approach to cooperating with the Afghan government which aimed to see Kabul take responsibility for the security of the country as soon as possible.
"We are not going to name a withdrawal date but we support the Afghans in this aim," Merkel told reporters.
The chancellor said Berlin would also provide 50 million euros (70 million dollars) to a 500-million-dollar international fund to bring insurgents into the mainstream and roughly double development aid to 430 million euros.
German troops currently form the third-largest contingent in the 110,000-strong international force behind the United States and Britain, with the upper limit capped by parliament at 4,500 soldiers.
Berlin currently has around 4,300 troops in the strife-ravaged country, the bulk of them in the north.
With the addition of 350 extra reservists, who could be deployed for a limited period of time, the upper limit would rise to around 5,350 troops.
Asked how Germany's new commitments would be received by the US administration, which is pressing its allies to back its "surge" of 30,000 more US soldiers, Merkel said she was comfortable with the new offer.
"It was not the case that the Americans asked us what we wanted to do but rather we determined ourselves what we intend to do," he said.
"I think that if Germany plans to train at least one-third of the police forces in Afghanistan, if it doubles what it is doing in terms of civil reconstruction and we make our entire approach more effective and harmonise it with the international community, plus adds 500 troops and a flexible reserve of 350 troops, then we have nothing to be ashamed of."
Her comments came ahead of a two-day visit to Berlin by Afghan President Hamid Karzai starting on Tuesday on his way to the London conference.
Karzai, under pressure from his Western backers to tackle rampant corruption, hopes for Western support at the conference for his strategy of wooing Taliban fighters with the lure of jobs and money.
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