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German cabinet agrees to extend Afghanistan mission

February 25, 2021

The German government has agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan into 2022. The extension now requires the approval of the Bundestag lower house of parliament. 

In this 2011 picture, German military soldiers train Afghan troops at a base in Camp Pamir
Germany has the second-largest troop contingent after the US in NATO's mission in AfghanistanImage: Maurizio Gambarini/dpa/picture alliance

German troops are likely to stay on in Afghanistan as the government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in the country by 10 months. 

The new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the war-ravaged country until January 31, 2022.

Taking 'complex situation' into account

Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said the new date "takes account appropriately of the complex situation in Afghanistan and also makes possible the flexibility necessary to be able to react if the volatile security and threat situation there changes.''

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

Seibert said that the maximum limit of 1,300 German troops will remain unchanged in the new mandate.

Women in Afghanistan fear for the future

NATO undecided

The decision comes a week after NATO said it had made "no final decision" on the future of the mission.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing "many dilemmas" over its continued engagement in the country.

US President Joe Biden is reviewing Donald Trump's 2020 deal with the Taliban, which sets May 1 as the deadline for a final US troop pullback.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the decision to withdraw troops should not be rushed, rather than being "slavishly" bound to the May deadline. Instead, the drawback of troops should be linked to slow-paced peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, he has said.

dvv/rs (AFP, AP)