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Chancellor Merkel Wants German Troops to Stay in Afghanistan

Amid criticism from opposition parties, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to Germans in her weekly video podcast on Saturday, Sept. 15, to support German troops deployed in war-torn Afghanistan.

Angela Merkel during a speech

Angela Merkel sees no alternative to the German deployment in Afghanistan

"There is no alternative," Merkel said, amid continuing criticism from opposition parties, which have called for a partial or complete pullout of Germany's biggest force abroad from the conflict.

She said the issue was not just the welfare of the Afghan people but Germany's own security as well.

Foreign troop deployments require regular votes of approval from the German parliament. The mandates for the peacekeepers and forces backing the war against the Taliban come up for renewal in October and November.

"We must not leave Afghanistan to the terrorists again," said Merkel.

Instead, the German chancellor said, Afghanistan had to be helped to establish robust government institutions.

Fruits of labor

German soldier in Afghanistan

Germany is not planning to send any of its troops to southern Afghanistan

Merkel also stressed that aid work funded by the international community had had brought basic medical care to 80 per cent of the Afghan population.

"Five times as many children are going to school as six years ago," she said, adding that those advances needed to be backed up by training the army and police.

Separately, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said that Germany would not be sending troops to the war with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan but would concentrate on training Afghan soldiers in the north.

"We have agreed with the Afghans to train the soldiers in the individual regions," he said in the interview with the weekly magazine Focus.

According to Jung, those forces are needed in the north to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.

The German Defense Ministry has rejected past pressure to shift troops to the front in the south. Jung said eight German personnel were assisting allied units in the south.

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