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Merkel dismisses calls for German troop deployment in S Afghanistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Nov 13, IRNA
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday reiterated her opposition to the deployment of German troops in war-stricken southern Afghanistan amid mounting pressure from NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

"We have assumed responsibility in the north and have a mandate under which we can help in the south during emergencies," said Merkel after her meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark in Berlin.

"We believe that the mandate should not be changed," Merkel added.

Around 2,700 German peacekeeping soldiers are currently deployed in three northern regions of Afghanistan -- Kunduz, Faizabad and Mazar-i Sharif as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Merkel latest remarks followed calls by de Hoop Scheffer on Germany and other countries with troops based in Afghanistan to shift them to the volatile southern part of Afghanistan.

Writing a commentary in the daily Berliner Zeitung, de Hoop Scheffer said, "We must use our forces better in Afghanistan -- this means we have to lift restrictions that individual nations have imposed on their troops."

German media disclosed in September that the German army had been secretly providing logistical help to NATO-led forces who are battling insurgents in southern Afghanistan.

German military helicopters and transport planes have repeatedly flown numerous sorties for allied troops in southern Afghanistan which included the transfer of troops and injured soldiers as well as logistical supply.


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