Bush says he will no longer press Germans to fight Taliban in south
(dpa) - Speaking ahead of a NATO summit in Romania, US President George W Bush has told a German newspaper he is no longer pressing Berlin to deploy troops to southern Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.
Washington's demands in recent months for German help in the war zone in the south raised tension, with the German public hostile to redeploying peacekeeping troops from more peaceful northern Afghanistan where they maintain security and do reconstruction work.
In the German version of his remarks, released Sunday and to appear Monday in the newspaper Die Welt, Bush said he was grateful that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German parliament "are supporting our commitment with troops in the north of Afghanistan."
Asked if he desired German troops in the south, Bush said, "No. I want decisions that our partners can support. I would like Chancellor Merkel to be able to live with the outcome.
In other words, I don't want to ask other states for things they are politically not in a position to give."
Die Welt said it checked again by asking Bush if Germany would be asked to deploy ground troops to the south, and Bush said, "No. That won't happen."
No immediate official reaction was available to Bush's remarks, but government sources said, "We were very pleased at the recognition of the work being done by the German armed forces."
Currently 43,000 soldiers under NATO command are operating in Afghanistan, with Germany, France and Italy keeping the peace in relatively stable provinces while US, British, Canadian and Dutch troops are fighting the Taliban in Pashtun-dominated provinces.
This week's NATO summit in Bucharest is expected to discuss the crisis caused by the Taliban insurgency.