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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
German troops join Macedonia force
German soldiers
Germans will now joins thousands of other Nato troops
German plans to send troops to join the Nato force in Macedonia have been approved by parliament after a potential rebellion was headed off.

The mission was approved by 497 votes to 130 at a special session of the lower house of parliament. Eight members abstained.


This is a task that no-one should evade

Chanceller Gerhard Schroeder
The plan had already been accepted by the cabinet, but under the German constitution it also needed parliamentary approval.

The 500-strong German force will now join the thousands of other Nato troops already on the ground in Macedonia, where the weapons collection mission is into its third day.

They were expected to leave for Macedonia later on Wednesday.

Gerhard Schroeder
The deployment was seen as a test for Gerhard Schroeder
The right-wing opposition Christian Democrats had earlier threatened not to back the deployment, claiming that the German army had been so depleted by cuts that it was not capable of foreign assignments.

Their support was won back after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder promised extra money for the mission.

Up to 30 members of Mr Schroeder's red-green coalition had also threatened to rebel, some fearing the risks were too great and the mission could drag on.

In a heated parliamentary session, many members argued that the mission was too dangerous, too likely to drag on, or lacking the proper United Nations mandate.

UK paratroops
Thousands of Nato troops are already on the ground
But Mr Schroeder insisted that Germany should play its part.

"This is a task that no-one should evade," he told the parliament.

Mr Schroeder had to cut short a tour of eastern Germany to see the plan through.

Germany already has about 5,000 troops in Kosovo and 2,000 in Bosnia.

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The BBC's Rob Broomby
The vote when it came ended days of agonising"

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17 Aug 01 | Europe
Macedonia mission 'too short'
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