Thursday, March 15, 2012

Merkel Visits Troops in Afghanistan

Angela Merkel arrived for a surprise visit to Germany's Bundeswehr troops deployed . German chancellor said she wants to stick to the planned 2014 withdrawal. Angela Merkel as she arrived under the highest security precautions for a one-day visit to the German Bundeswehr base at Mazar-e-Sharif. Shortly after her arrival, the chancellor expressed her doubts about developments in the crisis-plagued country. Yes, there has been progress, the chancellor said, but not enough to let her safely say, "We will succeed by 2013/2014. The will is there, we want to succeed and we are working on it." The planned date 2014 has been set for the withdrawal of the international security forces currently present in Afghanistan. . The independent German Armed Forces Association welcomed the chancellor's words, praising her new reflectiveness. For their part, the Green Party demanded talks over a possible re-orientation of Germany's Afghanistan strategy. Even German Defense Minister Thomas De Maizière expressed initial surprise as he learned of the news during a trip to Uzbekistan.Merkel quickly saw a need to clarify her statements, and before she boarded her plane to return to Germany, she said, "2014 is the withdrawal date." And it will remain so.She may well have meant that the existing mandate for the Bundeswehr mission remains as it is that the current 4,800 German soldiers in the country are to withdraw by 2014 as long as the security situation permits. But the confusion over Merkel's comments also demonstrates just how great the uncertainty over Afghanistan has become -- among the public, the troops and in political circles.Media agencies

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