Germany's parliament voted by an overhwelming majority on Saturday to send up to 1,200 German soldiers to join a UN-mandated international security force for Afghanistan.
The vote was 538-35 with eight abstentions, in a sign of wide support for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's motion from across the political spectrum, with only the former communists voting against.
Schroeder had said Afghanistan was now closer to peace as he urged parliament to approve the deployment.
"We are making this decision in a situation where peace in Afghanistan is nearer," Schroeder told the lower house, the Bundestag, hailing the UN's impressive role in working to give the country a new start.
An interim government headed by Hamid Karzai, which was agreed earlier this month in the German city of Bonn, took office in Kabul on Saturday.
Foreign minister Joschka Fischer said: "We now have a great chance to bring a lasting end to this war and civil war."
Schroeder said the UN Security Council's approval in New York on Thursday of the security force had met German concerns by giving a robust mandate for an intervention limited to Afghanistan and limited in time.
The government decided Friday to provide up to 1,200 troops for the force, which will operate in Kabul and the surrounding area under British military leadership.
The force, which has a six-month mandate, will have a total of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops from more than 20 countries.
Defense minister Rudolf Scharping said on Friday that the German contribution would be combined with a total of 250 soldiers from the Netherlands and Denmark to form a European contingent of up to 1,450 troops.
The combination of German, Dutch and Danish forces corresponds with Schroeder's concern to place the German participation as much as possible in a European framework, Scharping said.
Scharping said on Saturday that the German soldiers are to leave for Afghanistan after December 25 but before the New Year.