Berlin presses for bigger Afghan force

( dpa )- Under pressure from Washington to help more in Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government hopes to boost the German force there and extend its zone of deployment westwards, sources said Saturday.

Berlin would seek parliamentary authorization to expand the contingent with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by 1,000 personnel from 3,500 to 4,500, informed sources at a conference in Munich said.

However German Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung declined to discuss the proposals when approached by opposition politicians attending the conference.

"Excuse me, but I can't discuss future authorizations," he was said to have told them.

The opposition has been pushing for German forces to confine themselves to reconstruction work in Afghanistan.

The military mission is not popular. A poll by TNS Emnid for the news magazine Focus showed Saturday that 84 per cent of Germans oppose the troops moving south and 63 per cent believe the Afghan mission does not serve German interests.

In the past week, Berlin has refused appeals from Washington to take on a fighting role against Taliban rebels in Afghanistan. US officials then suggested Berlin might help out more in other ways.

In a speech to the annual Security Conference in Munich, Jung called for greater dialogue and more joint decisions among NATO partners operating in Afghanistan.

He said lack of unity and cooperation was hindering the alliance's role as a pillar of global security.

The weekly news magazine Der Spiegel said Berlin would also offer to take on peacekeeping in Badghiz province, currently in the care of an Italian command.

Germany's main peace effort is currently concentrated in a largely peaceful area of northern Afghanistan, far from the fighting with the Taliban that has shaken the south.

German force levels abroad are governed by parliamentary authorization for set terms, usually 12 months.

The Munich sources said Merkel's government would also seek a longer term of authorization for the deployment so as to keep controversy about it out of the 2009 federal election campaign and aftermath in Germany.

They said they feared a logjam through lengthy negotiations on forming a new German coalition government in 2009.

The federal whip of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, Volker Kauder, called in an interview to appear Sunday for a longer term than 12 months.

He told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the next mandate for the troops to serve in the ISAF in Afghanistan, due this October, should be framed "so that we don't have to decide on a fresh extension in 2009, the year of the next election."

He said he would prefer that authorization to last through to the spring of 2010.

The Munich sources said commanders also felt 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers were needed in northern Afghanistan from a purely military point of view but knew this was probably not politically achievable with the German electorate.

However they were bidding for 4,500 to "obtain more freedom of manoeuvre."

Currently 3,300 Germans are serving with ISAF, only slightly fewer than the limit, whereas German peacekeepers in Kosovo have a generous authorization for 8,500 personnel although only 2,500 are actually deployed in that Balkan province.

The Christian Democrats rule Germany in coalition with the Social Democrats.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned a week ago that NATO risked becoming a "two-tier" alliance because some member states were not willing to send their soldiers to fight in Afghanistan's volatile south.

Supplies of 'Iskander' missiles to Armenia must be stopped – Russian expert
Supplies of 'Iskander' missiles to Armenia must be stopped – Russian expert
Azerbaijani market of great interest to Russian Perm region's business circles
Azerbaijani market of great interest to Russian Perm region's business circles
Russia increasing supplies to Turkey along BTK railway
Russia increasing supplies to Turkey along BTK railway
Loading Bars
Latest
Russian journalists horrified by Azerbaijani Aghdam city's destruction
Netherlands Trading House may open in Azerbaijan
Supplies of 'Iskander' missiles to Armenia must be stopped – Russian expert
Baku hosts meeting with Pakistani military delegation
Pakistani FWO talks interest to co-op with Azerbaijan in infrastructure projects
Azerbaijani president receives Signify representatives via video format (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should support post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijani territories - OSCE PA VP
Chairperson-in-Office of OSCE looks to visit Azerbaijan
Italy's share in Azerbaijani oil export in 2020 disclosed
Azerbaijani satellites to provide HD broadcasting to West Africa region
Hungary-Azerbaijan cooperation on ACG, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can expand to new areas
Khazar Consortium opens again tender for service maintenance in Turkmenistan
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Payment card turnover in Azerbaijan continues to grow
Azerbaijan’s crude oil export to China up
Hungary eyes including Azerbaijani gas in country’s future energy mix
Azerbaijani market of great interest to Russian Perm region's business circles
Azerbaijan reports 142 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan discloses volume of foreign trade operations with Russia in Jan. 2021
Azerbaijan to use new 'cloud' technologies in audit during 2021 - Chamber of Auditors
Volume of loans issued by Georgian commercial banks down
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
OSCE ready to deploy mediation missions for sustained peace in Azerbaijani liberated territories - president
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of gas leakage detection services
Fitch projects share of state-owned banks in Uzbekistan to reduce
"Sign of Khojaly" film demonstrated within "Justice for Khojaly" campaign (VIDEO)
OIC SecGen pays tribute to those who lost their lives in Khojaly genocide
Reconstruction of Azerbaijan’s liberated lands to deepen economic co-op with Hungary
Moderna sees $18.4 billion in sales from COVID-19 vaccine in 2021
Swiss agriculture technologies to be introduced in Kazakhstan's Almaty
Tesla short-sellers sitting on $3.5 billion weekly profits
Azerbaijani FM receives Pakistani FWO's Director General (PHOTO)
Resident of Azerbaijan's liberated Jabrayil district injured as result of mine explosion
Georgia creating new council to develop state enterprise reform strategy
Uzbekistan approves investment agreements on construction of wind farms in Bukhara region
Iran's raw steel exports shrink
Dutch company sets up concrete production plant in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Georgian Railway to resume passenger transportation
Azerbaijan records growth of debit cards in January 2021
Azerbaijani company signs contracts for transportation of aluminum products to Turkey
Russia increasing supplies to Turkey along BTK railway
Main share of Czech investments in Georgia falls on energy sector
Oil refining volumes decrease in Kazakhstan year-on-year
Azerbaijan communications ministry working on stabilizing Internet in districts
Azerbaijan’s Azerishig, MERKABA-SOFT companies sign contract
Payments of Azerbaijani insurance companies double
Data on cotton yarn sales on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Kazakhstan's national oil&gas company reports lower annual oil transportation volumes
Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas sees decrease in 2020 oil extraction
Azerbaijan sees Jan.2021 growth of national currency deposits in local banks
Georgia plans to hinder construction of plastics recycling plant in Kutaisi FIZ
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 25
AzTV will investigate historical assasinations (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan eyes to host meeting of Turkic Council countries' energy ministers in 2022
Zarif urges South Korea to release Iran's blocked assets
UK eager to restart U.S. talks on tariff removal
Saipem expects capex to rise in 2021
Central Bank of Azerbaijan announces winner of tender for survey on household plans
Central Bank of Azerbaijan shares data on revenues of Azerbaijani insurance companies
Number of trucks crossing through Iran's Jolfa border checkpoint revealed
German companies eye 'green economy' dev't projects in Kazakhstan
Kazakh investors interested in several sectors of Turkish economy
Assets of pawnshops and microcredit organizations in Uzbekistan increase
Kazakhstan's major copper company reveals its 2021 production guidance
Turkey's activity on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Azerbaijani president takes part in ceremony of providing families of martyrs, disabled with apartments (PHOTO)
Details of import-export via Iran's Bushehr Province announced
President Ilham Aliyev attends opening of Shaghan Rehabilitation Pension (PHOTO)
KAZ Minerals provides update on Baimskaya Project in co-op with Russia
Military coup attempt in Armenia - PM inviting supporters to Republic Square
Uzbek agriculture ministry to create system to monitor irrigated lands
Pashinyan dismisses head of General Staff
Armenian General Staff demands Pashinyan's resignation
Azerbaijani banks' foreign currency demand down
Azerbaijan privatizes several district public properties via auctions
Turkmenistan prepares to host transport conference for landlocked developing countries
Bakcell launches internet package for online education and work
Iran starts exporting products from Tombak port
Georgian PM appoints Vice PMs
Extraction from Iran's South Pars gas field exceeds plan
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals reports increase in revenues
TOP-5 trading partners of Azerbaijan in Jan. 2021
Georgia to extend grace period for auto importers
Saipem’s capex down, net financial debt up in 2020
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to repair vehicles
Saipem sees decrease in revenues due to slowdown of projects
Barclays lifts 2021 oil price outlook on tighter U.S. supply view
Azerbaijani MFA comments on statements by Luxembourg's FM
Khojaly genocide - heaviest crime of last century, says Turkish Parliament's chairman
Turkey records more revenue from Jan.2021 car exports to France
Uzbekistan eyes purchasing helicopters from Airbus
Turkey always next to Azerbaijan - speaker of Turkish Parliament
Volumes of agricultural products export in Turkmenistan’s Lebap region revealed
Annual profit margin of Georgian banks increases
Azerbaijan's export of plastics over Jan. 2021 shows substantial growth
Iranian parliament shares grief of relatives of victims of Khojaly tragedy
Upgrading of Internet equipment in Azerbaijan's Khachmaz district continues - Ministry
Uzbekistan to fund introduction of drip irrigation technology for cotton growing
Europe’s gas trade to decline to 450 bcm by 2050
All news