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Germany

Holbrooke, envoys agree better cooperation on Afghanistan and Pakistan

At a meeting in Munich, fourteen special envoys to Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to form a contact group to better coordinate efforts in the Hindu Kush. But can they really work together to defeat the Taliban?

A British Royal Airforce Chinook helicopter takes off from Bagram Air Base

The border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan remains one of the world's most troubled

Wednesday's meeting in the Bavarian capital was held after an invitation by German envoy Bernd Muetzelburg and included US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and his EU and UN colleagues, Ettore Sequi and Kai Eide.

The participants agreed to form what's being called an "Afgahnistan-Pakistan support group," essentially a framework so that states and organizations can improve their working relationships in a region where Taliban activities are on the rise.

The Munich meeting came one day after the United States officially presented its new strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration says it wants to focus its anti-terrorism campaign on the Hindu Kush region and has called upon all its allies to do more in Afghanistan, be it in terms of military, security or reconstruction efforts.

Ahead of the meeting, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier indicated his country would be willing to step up its participation in the area of civilian reconstruction.

But Muetzelburg made it clear after the meeting that Germany would not increase its current contingent of 4500 Bundeswehr soldiers in the region.

"No one's expecting more, and above all our American friends have not demanded more," Muetzelburg told reporters after the discussions.

The participants also agreed to meet again on the margins of a Pakistan donor conference in Tokyo later this month.

The fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan is also set to be a major issue at the NATO summit scheduled to begin on Friday in Baden-Baden, Germany and Strasbourg, France.

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