Germany nominates special Afghanistan envoy

Other News Materials 16 February 2009 18:45 (UTC +04:00)

The German Foreign Ministry on Monday nominated a special envoy to Afghanistan as part of renewed international efforts to achieve peace in the region, dpa reported.

Bernd Muetzelburg, Germany's ambassador to India, is to be the prime contact person for the international community, a role which involves close cooperation with the new US envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Monday the appointment of Muetzelburg, saying he "brings a lot of experience to the post."

The chancellery denied media speculation over the weekend that there had been a row within the government over the proposed appointment.

The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper had reported that Merkel's office had not approved Steinmeier's plan and quoted a spokesman saying that if Steinmeier desired Muetzelburg to represent the government as a whole, he would have to approach other ministers.

Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Monday it was fair to assume that "anybody who steps forward on behalf of the federal government represents the common position of the government."

Germany's interior, defence and development aid ministries, which all have stakes in Afghan policy, also welcomed Muetzelburg's appointment.

Muetzelburg is considered to be one of Germany's most experienced diplomats. From 2002 to 2005, he was a foreign policy advisor to then-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Before that he led the UN team at the Foreign Ministry.

The 65-year old, who had planned to retire in July, showed measured optimism when he spoke at length about the current situation in Afghanistan during a recent book launch.

Germany has the third largest troop deployment under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The 3,000 troops stationed in the region are restricted to peacekeeping, rebuilding and training missions, and are banned from participating in the heavy fighting in southern and eastern Afghanistan.