German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen calls to extend Bundeswehr deployment abroad | News | DW | 16.12.2017
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German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen calls to extend Bundeswehr deployment abroad

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has called for German troop deployment in Afghanistan, Mali and Iraq to be extended for a year. The current mandates are due to expire before the end of January.

German defense minister and conservative politician Ursula von der Leyen said she would discuss extending the foreign deployment of Bundeswehr troops with all parliamentary parties in the upcoming weeks, independent of whether or not a German government has been formed.

In an interview with German media group Funke Mediengruppe, von der Leyen called for troop deployment to be extended for one year.

Ursula von der Leyen arrives at a cabinet meeting (CDU) (Reuters/A. Schmidt)

Von der Leyen is currently the defense minister in the German caretaker government

"I would welcome extending deployment early next year — and not just for three months but once again in the typical pattern of one year."

She added that Germany's partners are counting on its continued military presence abroad. The greatest number of German troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, Mali and northern Iraq, von der Leyen said.

"In all three countries we stand with our partners in the fight against terror."

A 3-month stopgap extension

The Bundeswehr's foreign deployment mandates in seven countries were due to expire either at the end of this year or at the end of January 2018.

The ongoing search by Angela Merkel's conservatives to form a government means that many government functions, such as proposing the future arrangement of troop missions abroad, remain in limbo. The German parliament is required to approve the government's requests for troop extensions.

Earlier this week, the German parliament extended the foreign deployment of German troops in seven nations by three months each in order to ensure foreign policy continuity. 

In debate, speakers from all parliamentary parties made it clear that any extension of troop missions in Syria and North Iraq must be newly debated and decided in parliament given recent successes in the fight against "Islamic State" (IS) in those areas.

Von der Leyen argued that the task of fighting IS and stabilizing Iraq had not yet been accomplished.

Watch video 12:03

Fighting Islamists - German deployment in Mali

cmb/ng (AFP, dpa, epd)

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