Germany: Security command transfer to Afghans should begin in 2010
A transfer of responsibility for security in Afghanistan from NATO-led forces to local authorities should begin this year, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was quoted as saying Saturday, DPA reported.
"At the Afghanistan conference in London we should be working towards beginning the hand-over process for security responsibility from 2010 on," Westerwelle said in an interview with the Focus news magazine.
"It's about the beginning of a process which has an exit strategy for our soldiers at its end," he said.
An international conference on the NATO allies' strategy in Afghanistan is to be held in London on January 28.
Germany, with up to 4,500 troops in the north of Afghanistan, has the third-largest NATO contingent there, but has so far resisted calls to make a troop commitment to augment US President Barack Obama's plan to send an additional 30,000 soldiers.
According to recent opinion polls, up to three quarters of the German population are against the country's involvement in the Afghan conflict.
Westerwelle has insisted that a comprehensive approach to building governance, fighting corruption, and economic development in Afghanistan must be key parts of the allies' strategy, rather than merely sending more troops.