Row surfaces in Berlin over role of special Afghanistan envoy
A special German envoy on Afghanistan, who is to liase with the new US envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, may represent the German Foreign Ministry only rather than Germany as a whole, a news report said Sunday, dpa reported.
The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper said there had been a row within the government over the proposed appointment.
The news magazine Der Spiegel had said Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier had already chosen the envoy. He would be Bernd Muetzelburg, 65, the German ambassador to India, who would take leave from his embassy duties for the special role, Spiegel said.
The Foreign Ministry told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa there had been no formal appointment yet.
The Financial Times report said Chancellor Angela Merkel's office had not approved Steinmeier's plan and quoted a Merkel spokesman saying that if Steinmeier desired Muetzelburg to represent the government as a whole, he would have to approach other ministers.
"The success of such an approach is completely unclear," the spokesman reportedly said.
Steinmeier and Merkel are to be opponents in this September's German general election. Merkel is to be front runner for the Christian Democratic parties and Steinmeier the top candidate of the Social Democrats.
Germany's interior, defence and development aid ministries all have stakes in Afghan policy.
Washington had asked for a German official to concentrate on moves to solve the growing crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to be available for Holbrooke to contact directly, Der Spiegel said.
It said Holbrooke was seeking a contact group similar to that set up in the 1990s to handle talks on peace in former Yugoslavia.