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Conflict

Bundestag votes in favor of post-NATO Afghanistan mandate

The German government has voted in favor of plans to aid Afghan forces when the NATO-led ISAF mission withdraws at the end of the month. Steinmeier said 2015 would "open up a new chapter" for Afghanistan.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) said on Friday that the German government wants to further strengthen security forces in Afghanistan, even after the NATO operation comes to an end.

The Bundestag voted in favor of the NATO follow-on mission "Resolute Support" at midday on Friday. Only the left party, Die Linke, voted in opposition.

"150 million euros per year envisaged," Steinmeier said in the Bundestag. 80 million euros would go to the Afghan army and 70 million to the country's police.

Lesson learnt?

During Friday's debate, CDU's foreign affairs politician Philipp Missfelder compared NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan to that of the US from Iraq, warning that Iraq's current conflict shows how dangerous a "rash" withdrawal of troops can be.

"If Afghanistan is ever going to stand on its own two feet, then it needs support," Missfelder said, supporting Steinmeier's comment that a lasting peace can only be achieved by an "internal reconciliation process."

Hopes are for the year-long operation to begin by January 1, 2015 after the NATO mission comes to a close. 850 soldiers from Germany's Bundeswehr will also remain in Afghanistan.

Steinmeier said 2015 would "open up a new chapter" for Afghanistan. "The Kabul government will take over full responsibility of security. The future deployment of the Bundeswehr is not a combat operation, but a support effort," he stressed, adding that "German soldiers would not be in the fight against terrorism or drugs."

Thirteen-year campaign

The NATO-led ISAF mission was launched in late 2001 shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York's World Trade Center and the fall of the Taliban regime in Kabul. According to the ministry of defense, mission "Resolute Support" has involved around 12,000 in total.

On Friday afternoon, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was also due to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, before meeting with Steinmeier.

ksb/mg (dpa, epd)

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