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Germany

Germany in Brief

Defense minister says German soldiers should stay longer in Afghanistan; German cabinet decides to extend Green Card program till 2004 and Robbie Williams and Charlie's Angels create a stir in Berlin.

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The sexy trio, from left: Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, made hearts flutter in Berlin.

Defense minister wants to extend Afghanistan mandate

German Defense Minister Peter Struck said in a newspaper interview Wednesday that German peacekeepers in Afghanistan should stay in the country till 2004 and the German parliamentary mandate for the deployment, which expires in December, should be extended for another year. "But we should in no case tell our Afghan friends that we are staying forever. The main aim of our presence is to build a state that isn’t a breeding ground for terrorists and terrorism," Struck told the Berliner Zeitung. The minister’s plan however faces resistance from the conservative opposition, who fear extending the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mandate beyond Kabul is too risky following a bombing last month in the capital city that killed four German soldiers. Germany and Holland are currently leading the ISAF force in Kabul which includes 5,500 soldiers from 20 NATO countries, with Germany providing the largest troop contingent.

Robbie Williams and other angels wow Berlin

The German capital was in a state of mass hysteria on Tuesday evening as a bevy of Hollywood stars and an iconic pop idol hit the city simultaneously. Movie sirens Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu sashayed over a red carpet to the Potsdamer Platz in downtown Berlin to promote their latest action blockbuster Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, a racy sequel to the movie Charlie’s Angels based on the 1970s detective series. In the latest flick the sexy skimpily-clad trio fight off the bad guys with mean Kung-Fu moves and chase scenes in helicopters, motorcycles and surfboards. At the same time British pop superstar Robbie Williams had girls screaming adoringly as he gave the first of two Berlin open-air concerts as part of his European tour. The 29-year-old singer and entertainer, famous for hits such as "Angel" and "She’s The One" kicked off the German leg of his tour in the southern German city of Munich last Saturday.

Green Card to be extended till 2004

The German cabinet on Wednesday approved plans by Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement to extend Green Card regulations for up to 20,000 foreign computer experts in Germany till the end of 2004. The regulations will be replaced by the planned immigration law (currently put on hold) in 2004. The Green Card, which gives foreign computer experts a work permit for a maximum of five years, took effect on August 1, 2000 to make up for a lack of experts in Germany in information and communication technology and would have expired this July. The Federal Labor Agency estimates that only about 10,472 work permits were issued to foreign experts between August 2000 and end of June 2003, with the largest share going to Indians (3771) followed by Russia and breakaway republics of the former Soviet Union (1851) and Romania (1033). However a study by The Institute for Labor Market and Career Research (IAB) showed that foreign computer experts who had moved to Germany also suffered sporadic unemployment. In Munich, which has the most Green Card holders next to Frankfurt, about 7 percent of Green Card holders had registered themselves unemployed at least once.