Germany authorizes bigger Afghan peacekeeping force
Germany authorized Thursday a bigger peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, with the Bundestag parliament agreeing in a 442-96 vote to raise the maximum personnel level from 3,500 to 4,500.
The Bundestag also extended the term of authorization for a further 14 months until December 2009, reported dpa.
The Germans, the third largest contingent in the 53,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after US and British troops, have been peacekeeping in Afghanistan for nearly seven years.
Pacifist politicians among opposition parties fiercely attacked the deployment.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, her coalition partners the Social Democrats and the opposition Free Democrats voted in favour with an overwhelming 442 ballots. There were 32 abstentions.
Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung hailed the decision as "a clear vote of confidence in the armed forces."
The development aid minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said the peacekeepers must stay to provide security, because the alternative would be an Afghan civil war and massacres of women.