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Germany

Germany Promises Troops to Support Afghan Elections

Afghanistan can count on increased German support during elections this summer. Germany's Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung has promised more troops and is optimistic that the security situation is stabilizing.

Franz Josef Jung gives speech to German troops

Defense Minister Jung spoke to German troops in Mazar-e Sharif

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said Afghanistan was on the right path forward despite continual attacks.

"I have the impression that things are going forward well," said Jung on Wednesday, March 11, in Kabul. This was also the case in the Afghan capital, where the number of attacks had decreased, he said.

Jung had previously met with his Afghan counterpart Abdul Rahim Wardak as his three-day trip to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan wrapped up. Jung said the Afghan government could count on German support during the presidential elections in August. Berlin would send 600 additional troops to help with security during that time, he said.

"Germany remains a reliable partner and a true friend of the Afghan people and will fulfill its promises," Jung said.

Jung also met with the head of NATO troops in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan.

Kunduz stabilizing

Jung had previously visited the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. He said the situation was stabilizing after three German soldiers were killed there last year. Jung said he saw significant indications of progress.

Franz Josef Jung digging with other soldiers

Jung took part in the groundbreaking for a new runway at Masar-i-Scharif airport

However, tribal leaders he met with gave him mixed reports.

"The security situation was bad, but for the past few months, we have been master of the situation with the help of our German friends," dpa news agency quoted one leader as saying.

Another chief, however, said the international community must do more in the region.

Other participants at the meeting said they wished Germany and other countries would bring more jobs and economic growth to Afghanistan.

Prior to Jung's visit to the German army's headquarters in Kunduz, three rockets hit outside the camp, injuring no one but damaging a gate.

Taliban must renounce violence

Jung told reporters in Kunduz that giving up violence would be "a necessary precondition for any agreement" with the Taliban. His comments followed statements by US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the US would consider sitting down with moderate Taliban members to seek a way of ending the fighting in Afghanistan.

But, it would be up to the Afghan government in Kabul to determine the chances of such talks succeeding, Jung said.

Germany currently has more than 3,500 soldiers deployed in northern Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. Jung said it would not further increase its military contingent in Afghanistan, despite appeals from Washington.

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