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Germany

Germany Could Lead Peace Force in Afghanistan

If Britain does not extend its role as leader of the international peace keeping forces, Germany could be called on to take over the helm.

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"Germans" in Pashtu

Afghanistan’s interim government leader Hamid Karzai has requested that Germany take over the leadership of the international peace keeping troops in his country if Britain decides not to extend its role in six months time.

In an exclusive interview with the German weekly news magazine "Der Spiegel", Karzai called on Germany to take the helm of the peace keeping mission because Germany had always supported the anti-Taliban forces.

So far, Britain has made no statements about its intent to continue on as peace keeping leader beyond. And the German government has not come out with an official position on Karzai’s request.

On Saturday the last group of advanced German soldiers arrived in Afghanistan. According to a spokesman for the German army, the transport machine chartered from the Dutch air force touched down safely at the Bagram airport north of Kabul.

The arrival of the 87 soldiers brings the total number of initial German troops stationed in Afghanistan to 240. Until the rest of the 800-person strong contingent arrives at the end of January, the advanced party is expected to establish a secure base and prepare for housing and medical facilities.

Together with the Netherlands and Denmark, Germany forms a single military contingent consisting of 1,450 soldiers. It is part of the larger international peace keeping forces of 4,500 troops, which are responsible for maintaining the peace and stability of the Afghan interim government in Kabul.

In an interview with Deutschlandradio Berlin, the director of the advanced contingent, brigadier general Carl Hubertus von Butler, emphasized that the troops would not be deployed outside the UN-mandated area of control surrounding Kabul. "The focus is most certainly Kabul," he said.

The soldiers in Afghanistan are faced with a "diffuse spectrum of risks", Hubertus said. The mines present "a high potential for danger", and there is always the possibility of an attack. But Hubertus stressed the preparedness of the German soldiers and the "excellent" cooperation between the different international armies.

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