Germany aims to cut hundreds from Afghan force

The US and other allies, including Germany, hope to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014.

Berlin: Germany`s government hopes to cut nearly 1,000 troops from the country`s contingent in Afghanistan by January 2013, the foreign and defense ministers said Thursday.

Germany currently has more than 5,200 troops in Afghanistan, serving in the country`s north. They serve under a parliamentary mandate which expires at the end of January and allows for the deployment of up to 5,350 soldiers.

All German military deployments abroad require parliamentary approval, typically on a yearly basis.

The US and other allies, including Germany, hope to withdraw combat troops and hand over responsibility for security to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014.

In a letter to caucus leaders, the ministers said they plan to reduce the contingent to 4,900 under the next mandate, which starts early next year.

By the end of January 2013, the government plans to cut the number of t0roops to 4,400, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere added.

Northern Afghanistan was long relatively calm but has seen increasing violence in recent years. Germany`s military mission there has become increasingly unpopular at home.

The German government has been keen to embark on a gradual withdrawal as early as the end of this year but hadn`t previously given details.

Bureau Report

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