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Germany

German Minister Wants More Troops in Afghanistan

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung will next week announce plans for the future strength of German troops in Afghanistan, a spokesman said on Saturday, June 21. It's thought another 1,000 troops could be deployed.

German soldiers in Afghanistan

More soldiers would give the Bundeswehr more flexibility in Afghanistan, Jung said

Jung wants to increase German deployment in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from the current upper limit of 3,500.

Media reports have said the figure could rise to 4,500. A defense ministry spokesman said Jung would make clear the exact number at the end of next week.

Jung said in a radio interview Saturday that any increase in troop strength would be used for training and civil reconstruction projects.

"We want to increase training three-fold. Next year we want to train 7,500 Afghan troops. To achieve this we need to formulate a new upper limit for our mandate which will give German troops greater flexibility," he told German public radio.

Focus on the north

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung

Jung stressed earlier that Germany would continue to focus its efforts on the relatively peaceful north of the country, where it will be providing the Quick Reaction Force from early July, taking

over from Norway.

The current German mandate for its troops runs out in mid-October, when parliament must approve a renewal. The annual renewal usually receives broad parliamentary backing, with only the socialist Left Party firmly opposed.

A majority of the population opposes the deployment. A poll in February showed 85 percent of the 1,001 surveyed opposed to sending German troops to the volatile south of the country.

Germany has come under pressure from its NATO allies to increase its efforts in Afghanistan, and in particular to provide combat troops to assist the US, British, Canadian and Dutch forces fighting Taliban insurgents in the embattled south.

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