The German government aims to send troops to the Afghan province before winter, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported on Wednesday. Referring to government sources, the paper wrote that a first Bundeswehr contingent including civilian reconstruction helpers could be sent to the northern Afghan city of Kundus in the autumn. The intended strength of the deployment, 200 to 300 soldiers, could be reached by early 2004 at the soonest. The paper said the mission would almost certainly be approved as soon as a U.N. mandate was issued. The German government would reportedly lobby the U.N. for an extension of the current mandate in September.