Berlin: Germany says NATO hopes to hand
over responsibility for three or four Afghan provinces to
local forces next year.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said today one of
these provinces should be in the north, where German troops
are deployed. He did not name any provinces that might be
He says a plan will be drawn up at an international
conference in Kabul July 20 and NATO is expected to make a
decision in November.
Westerwelle reiterated that Germany will stick with
its military and civil commitment to Afghanistan, but will
make preparations by 2013 to start bringing its troops home.
He says the German military mission "certainly is not
popular, but it is still necessary and in our own interest."