Germany to increase its forces in Afghanistan


Berlin : Under pressure from Washington to help western forces more in Afghanistan, Germany is to boost its troop contingent and extend their zone of deployment westwards, a news weekly said Saturday.

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Der Spiegel reported that officials would propose raising the parliamentary authorization for the mission from an upper limit of 3,500 to 4,500 personnel.

Berlin would also offer to take on peacekeeping in Badghiz province, currently in the care of an Italian command.

Germany’s main peace effort is currently concentrated in a largely peaceful area of northern Afghanistan, far from the fighting that has shaken the south.

The defence ministry in Berlin declined comment when approached by DPA about the Spiegel story, which is to appear in the issue to go on sale Monday.

German force levels are governed by parliamentary authorization for set terms. The federal whip of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Volker Kauder, called in an interview to appear Sunday for longer terms to be set than 12 months.

He told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the next mandate for the troops to serve in the ISAF in Afghanistan, due this autumn, should be framed “so that we don’t have to decide on a fresh extension in 2009, the year of the next election.”

He said he would prefer that authorization to last through to spring 2010.

The Christian Democrats rule Germany in coalition with the Social Democrats.

In the past week, Berlin has refused appeals from Washington to take on a fighting role against Taliban rebels in Afghanistan.