German defense minister visits southern Afghanistan | News | DW | 25.07.2012
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German defense minister visits southern Afghanistan

The German defense minister made an unannounced visit to southern Afghanistan Wednesday, hoping to gain an impression of a part of the country unfamiliar to most of his troops, who are generally stationed in the north.

Thomas de Maiziere met with NATO's southern regional commander, the American Major General James Huggins, as well as German troops stationed in Kandahar.

Nearly all of Germany's troops are stationed in the northern part of Afghanistan, which is officially the country's area of operations. As part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, German troops can be stationed anywhere. However, troops being sent anywhere outside of Germany's area of operations, like the few stationed in the south, require the approval of de Maiziere before being sent.

"We're doing a good job in the north," de Maiziere said on Wednesday. "But Afghanistan is more than just the north. I want to get an impression of this part of the country, too."

The southern portion of Afghanistan is seen as a Taliban stronghold.

"Not all jobs in Afghanistan are the same," de Maiziere added.

De Maiziere is the first German defense minister to visit the southern part of Afghanistan. He's made a total of eight trips to the country in the 17 months he has been in office, most recently at the beginning of July to Kundus and Masari-Scharif.

mz/mkg (dpa, AFP)