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Germany

German FM Calls for Withdrawal of Elite Forces from Afghanistan

German special forces in Afghanistan haven't been deployed "a single time" in the past three years, said Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The elite troops' mandate shouldn't be renewed, he added.

Elite German troops conduct an exercise

Removing the elite troops puts Germany's focus on reconstruction rather than anti-terror

As part of Germany's participation in US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), up to 100 elite soldiers at a time can be sent to Afghanistan. Tasked with fighting terrorism, OEF was a direct response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

However, the so-called KSK haven't had much to do, said Steinmeier in an interview with German newsmagazine Spiegel on Saturday, Oct. 4.

"That's why the KSK element should be taken out of the OEF mandate, which is set to be extended in November," the foreign minister was quoted as saying.

Instead, Germany should put a "clear emphasis" on its participation in the NATO-led mission ISAF, he said.

This coming Tuesday, the German parliament is expected to boost its contribution to ISAF from 3,500 to 4,500 troops. Berlin has already decided to increase is civilian aid to Afghanistan from 100 to 170 million euros.

Renewal of OEF is voted on every Nov. 15. The mission has become highly controversial due to a number of civilian deaths.

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