Don’t forget Afghanistan, Merkel urges world
KABUL (PAN): German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during an unannounced visit to northern Afghanistan, on Friday urged the global fraternity not to forget the conflict-devastated country after the pullout of foreign combat troops in 2014.
Calling next year’s presidential elections and strengthening the local economy as crucial objectives, she told reporters in northern Kunduz province: "We will be watching to make sure that the political process (in Afghanistan continues."
Accompanied by her Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere, the chancellor acknowledged both tasks were difficult, but central to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability.
"None of this is accomplished easily, taking a little more time than we would want. But it is essential so that the military operation does not merely come to a standstill, but that it is a real success," she remarked
The visiting dignitaries, following their meeting with troops in Mazar-i-Sharif, flew to the to the Bundeswehr base in Kunduz, where they laid a floral wreath at a memorial to the 35 soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan over the past 11 years.
While reaffirming her administration’s plan to continue Germany’s military involvement in the country beyond 2014, the chancellor called for NATO partners to commit soldiers to Afghanistan."Talks are still being held on this issue.”
In October last year, the German parliament accorded approval to the extension of its military and aircraft reconnaissance mission -- the third largest behind the US and British campaigns -- in the country.
Having about 4,170 troops in the north, Germany may keep 800 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014 when the International Security Assistance Force mission ends. Thirty-five German troops have died in Afghanistan since 2002.
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