Germany says committed to Afghan strategic support
KABUL (PAN): Visiting German defence minister Thomas De Maiziere, renewing his country’s continued strategic support with Afghanistan beyond 2014, on Wednesday said the shooting of civilians by a US soldier in Kandahar was shocking.
The US soldier was detained after he shot dead at least 17 civilians, including nine children and three women, in Zangabad area of Panjwai district in southern Kandahar province on Sunday. Another five civilians were injured in the incident, widely condemned by US and Afghan officials.
A statement issued from the Presidential Palace said the two leaders discussed the security transition and the training process of Afghan forces by German trainers.
"We are committed to our strategic cooperation with the Afghan government until 2014 and beyond it," the statement quoted the visiting dignitary as saying. President Hamid Karzai thanked Maiziere for his country’s support with Afghanistan.
Germany is the third country having the largest number of soldiers under command of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Germany has 4,900 soldiers mostly based on the northern region of Afghanistan.
According to the statement, Defence Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak and security advisor to the president, Rangin Dadfar Spanta were also present at the meeting.
Maiziere arrived in Kabul at a time when his US counterpart Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan on a two-day trip.
Panetta on Wednesday told US troops in southeastern Paktika province that the conflict has reached a turning point.
"We are achieving a turning point, after 10 years of war, when it comes to terrorism," Panetta told 200 soldiers from the 172nd Infantry Brigade based in Paktika, about 30 miles from the Pakistan border.
The defense secretary earlier in the day travelled to southern Helmand province, where he told provincial government officials that the recent violence, including the Kandahar incident and the Quran burning, will not deter the United States from carrying out its mission in Afghanistan.
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