Development News from Afghanistan

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Merkel Says German Afghanistan Aid Will Be Increased

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By Andreas Cremer

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — Germany will increase efforts to help rebuild Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech that failed to address concerns in her ruling coalition on future military commitments to fighting Taliban insurgents.

The Cabinet, meeting in Berlin tomorrow, will discuss “how to improve civil reconstruction and coordinate differing approaches more effectively,” Merkel told a congress today of her Christian Democratic Union party in Hanau, near Frankfurt.

The so-called Afghanistan Concept, which is to be approved by Merkel’s 16-member Cabinet of Christian and Social Democrat ministers, pledges to raise financial support for the Afghan civil rebuilding program to 125 million euros ($170 million) next year from 100 million euros, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on condition he not be identified.

Germany’s ruling coalition parties, while united in backing more reconstruction aid, are split over a possible reduction in the more than 3,000 German military personnel stationed in Afghanistan, most of whom serve as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s forces. Lawmakers facing falling public support for the mission because of growing number of civilian abductions and terror attacks, have to vote in October and November on extending troop mandates.

Social Democrats including Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler have said the government should consider dispatching more staff to train Afghan police and additional troops to protect the trainers. Yet Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, a Christian Democrat, wants to trim the commitment of troops to the U.S.-led anti-terrorism mission Operation Enduring Freedom.

`Strategic Dispute’

Germany’s Free Democrats, the largest of three opposition parties in the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, called on Merkel today to clarify her government’s military course in Afghanistan. Party leader Guido Westerwelle urged Merkel to solve the “strategic dispute” next week, when the Bundestag resumes business after a two-month summer recess.

Merkel, in her speech, said that without military force, “we won’t succeed with the rebuilding and will be unable to ensure the safety of Germany, Europe and the free world.”

According to the 20-page Afghanistan paper drawn up by ministers from the ruling parties, Germany’s military presence can be ended once the war-torn country’s troops assume full control of security matters, the spokesman said. Afghanistan’s stabilization and consolidation are part of Germany’s vital interests, he said, quoting from the document.


Written by afghandevnews

September 4, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Aid

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