German minister visits troops in Kunduz
KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): Germany's Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Wednesday met with soldiers from his country during a surprise visit to northern Kunduz province, an official said.
Later, talking to reporters, Maiziere said the security situation had improved in the province over the past two years. He added he was optimistic about the planned withdrawal of foreign troops until 2014.
"The current situation allows us to withdraw our soldiers as scheduled," he said. The German troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 as planned, he added.
Germany has around 5,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of them based in northern Kunduz province and it has so far lost 53 troops in the war.
The December 5 international conference on Afghanistan's future in Germany's city of Bonn pledged continued support for Afghanistan after the foreign troops combat role ends in 2014.
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