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Germany

German Defense Minister Visits Troops Amid Afghanistan Debate

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung began a three-day trip visiting German troops in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan as the US prepared to call for larger military contributions.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung talks to German soldiers in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Jung, seen here in Kunduz, remains stoic on further troop deployments

Germany has come under pressure to provide more troops and logistics to the NATO-led effort in Afghanistan, but at the weekend US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stressed it was up to Berlin to decide on any reinforcements.

Upon arrival in Uzbekistan, Jung is due to meet with his Uzbek counterpart Kaboul Berdiev, before travelling Tuesday, March 10, to Afghanistan to visit the German military bases in Mazar-i-Sharif and Faizabad.

During his trip, Jung plans to visit a training program for the Afghan police force, as well as witnessing reconstruction work in the Kunduz region.

US still waiting for German decision on Afghanistan

The trip comes days after Clinton said it was Germany's decision whether to send troops to the restive southern region of Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures while speaking during a media conference at a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday March 5, 2009.

Clinton didn't go as far as demanding a German decision

"That's going to be up to Germany to decide," Clinton told German ZDF television on Friday. "I wouldn't presume to suggest what the German government will decide."

The US secretary of state praised Germany's involvement in the region. "I think Germany has made some very useful contributions on the civilian side as well as the military side," Clinton said.

Germany has 3,800 troops engaged in training and reconstruction programs in the north of the country, as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The German government has further pledged to send an additional 600 troops to Afghanistan ahead of the presidential elections expected in August.

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