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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 10:37 GMT
Merkel in surprise Afghan visit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Afghan President, Hamid Karzai
Angela Merkel supports German military involvement in Afghanistan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where some 3,000 German troops are deployed.

The visit, her first, was unannounced and details are kept secret for security reasons.

Mrs Merkel met Afghan President Hamid Karzai and is expected to visit the troops whose mandate was recently renewed by Germany's parliament.

They are based in northern Afghanistan as part of a Nato deployment.

Mrs Merkel's government insisted on the renewal of the mandate for the German contingent, in spite of strong public opinion opposition.

The lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, voted on 12 October to extend the military engagement in Afghanistan.

At least 25 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the five years since Germany deployed its contingent following the ousting of the Taleban regime in 2001.

Some of the Nato allies, involved in combating the Taleban insurgency in the south and east of the country, have been critical of Germany for keeping the bulk of its forces in the quieter northern part.

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