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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 11:03 GMT
More German troops for Afghanistan
US Troops in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has a sizeable foreign troop presence
Germany says it will send more troops to Afghanistan ahead of taking over command of international forces in Kabul.

The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer during a day-long visit to Afghanistan.


Our option is to help build up the Afghan police and army to engage ourselves in building up the army

Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister
Mr Fischer met President Hamid Karzai, and is expected to visit German troops serving as international peacekeepers in the capital later on Tuesday.

The visit comes amid formal moves initiated by the United Nations to extend the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Kabul beyond next month.

Now, German and Dutch troops have begun their preparations to take over command of the force when Turkey relinquishes it at a date yet to be decided.

German presence

"Our option is to help build up the Afghan police and army to engage ourselves in building up the army. This is crucial not only for security in Kabul but elsewhere in the country," Mr Fischer was quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP.

Asked about the expected length of the German mandate, Mr Fischer said: "Usually it is for six months, that is the way the Isaf is organised."

His remarks were welcomed by Mr Karzai who said he was hoping that Germany would continue to lead the international force in Kabul for a year or even more.

The German Government has faced criticism over its failure to support US moves for war against Iraq, and the BBC's Kylie Morris in Kabul says it has attempted to use its role in Afghanistan to counter that.

Joschka Fischer
Joschka Fischer will review security
There are already more than 1,000 German soldiers in Kabul, together with hundreds of Dutch troops, with whom they will share command of the 5,000-strong international force, which now comprises soldiers from 22 nations.

The current commander of the force, Turkey's General Zorlu, is on record as saying that he expects international troops will need to be in the capital for another two to three years.

Mr Fischer's visit comes a week ahead of a planned summit in Germany, a year after the Bonn accords installed the interim government of Mr Karzai.

At the meeting it is expected that the main players in Afghan politics and their international supporters will address the lingering threats to Afghan security and plan the next stages of the country's recovery.


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