Germany rejects US troop request for southern Afghanistan
February 1, 2008
BERLIN (AFP) – German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said Friday that Berlin had no plans to deploy combat troops in battle-ravaged southern Afghanistan, after an urgent US request for NATO partners to do more to stabilise the country.
Jung told reporters that German troops serving with a NATO peacekeeping operation would continue to focus on reconstruction efforts in the relatively calm north of Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly sent an “unusually stern” letter to Jung last month demanding combat troops, helicopters and paratroopers.
Josef responded with a similarly “direct and stern” letter, the paper said, without quoting the letters directly.
German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm and a defence ministry spokesman confirmed that Berlin had received a letter about Afghanistan from Gates but declined to comment on its content.
There are about 40,000 NATO and 20,000 US-led coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.
NATO commanders say they need some 7,500 more troops to carry out their mission.
Southern Afghanistan has seen the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted in the US-led invasion in 2001, after the September 11 terror attacks masterminded by Al-Qaeda.