German Defence Minister visits Afghanistan
The minister is expected to discuss the phased pullout of Germany`s troops from Afghanistan.
Kabul: German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrived in the Afghan town of Mazar-i-Sharif early Sunday for a visit aimed at preparing his country`s gradual troop pullout.
"The most important thing of course is to talk with our soldiers to get an idea of how they see the situation on the ground," he told reporters on the plane taking him to Afghanistan.
The minister is expected to discuss the phased pullout of Germany`s troops from Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed by 2014.
He is also expected to hold talks with US officials and other members of the International Security Assistance Force deployed in Afghanistan.
With more than 5,000 troops deployed in the comparatively quiet north of the country, Germany is the third contributor of troops in coalition operations, behind the United States and Britain.
Germany plans to pull its first soldiers by the end of the year but Thomas de Maiziere would not provide specific numbers.