Germany's foreign minister says his country aims to begin reducing its troop contingent in Afghanistan in 2012.
A handover from NATO to Afghan forces is expected to start early next year and run through the end of 2014 under a plan set for approval at a NATO summit this weekend in Lisbon, Portugal.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle wrote in a guest commentary for Thursday's edition of the daily Die Welt: "Subject to the development of the security situation, it is our aim to reduce our own contingent for the first time in the year 2012."
German troops serve in northern Afghanistan under a parliamentary mandate that provides for a maximum contingent of 5,350 soldiers. There are more than 4,900 German troops in the country.