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Germany to extend Afghanistan mission

Germany has decided to extend the country's increasingly unpopular military engagement in Afghanistan by one year, but indicated that the country has no intentions to keep their troops in the war-torn nation forever.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2009 15:42 IST

Germany has decided to extend the country's increasingly unpopular military engagement in Afghanistan by one year, but indicated that the country has no intentions to keep their troops in the war-torn nation forever.

The German government's decision, which was taken at a two-day cabinet meeting in the Merseburg Castle, near Berlin, yesterday comes at a time when US President Barack Obama is expected to take a crucial decision on a request for an additional 40,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Announcing the cabinet decisions at a news conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle indicated that the government is keen to end the Afghanistan operation before the current parliamentary term ends in 2013 and it is working on an exit strategy.

"We don't want our engagement in Afghanistan to be a mission which lasts forever," Westerwelle said.

But the troop level will be kept within the present mandate of 4,500 soldiers.

Germany has been under pressure from the United States and other NATO partners to send more troops to Afghanistan.

The German government had already made it clear it could provide other assistance such as sending more combat helicopters, but will not deploy additional troops beyond the present limit set by the Bundestag when it gave its mandate over a year ago.