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Germany

German Troops to Afghanistan

Germany will be part of the multi-national peacekeeping force in Kabul following approval by the Berlin cabinet on Friday.

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Preparing for Kabul.

Saturday's vote by the German parliament, the Bundestag, will mostly be a formality.

The cabinet has already approved Germany’s participation in the international force for Afghanistan and will recommend that the parliament do the same in their emergency session on Saturday.

All parliament factions have signalized that they will authorize the mission. Only the reform communist party PDS will not approve the deployment.

Peacekeeping, not fighting force

German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said a maximum of 1,200 Bundeswehr soldiers will participate. Dutch and Danish troops will be integrated into a common contingent totalling some 1,450 soldiers. The Bundeswehr commitment is limited through June 20, 2002.

The deployment will involve a variety of military sectors. These include infantrymen, helicopter and air transport specialists, support personnel, as well as troops for the international headquarters.

Scharping stressed that this mission was distinctly separate from the US-led military actions. Some 4,000 German troops are participating in the war against terrorism.

The costs for the deployment have been set at 340 million euro ($ 306 million). Scharping did not say when the German troops would be ready to go.

Cautious military action

Germany, mindful of its militaristic past, requires that parliament approves any deployment of troops outside the NATO area.

Last month, Germany's mobilization of troops to Afghanistan to support the US-led campaign marked a new era in the country's foreign policy. Those troops were the largest German combat contingent to serve overseas since the end of World War Two.

Up until then, the German government had been cautious about any direct military involvement in conflicts.

Since 1945, it has been virtually taboo to contemplate deployment of troops to support foreign policy goals. Germany was deeply ambivalent even about joining peacekeeping missions in the Kosovo war and, more recently, in Macedonia.

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