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UPDATED: 08:34, November 14, 2006
German chancellor rejects sending troops to Afghan hotspots
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday ruled out sending German troops to the more volatile regions in southern Afghanistan despite growing international pressure.

"Germany has a strong presence in Afghanistan. We have taken responsibility for the North," Merkel said on Monday after meeting New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark in Berlin.

"We have a mandate that allows us in emergencies to help in the south but we believe this mandate should not be altered," she added.

About 2,800 German soldiers were stationed in the relatively stable northern part of Afghanistan, though the United States and Britain have been urging Berlin to send soldiers to the more dangerous southern part.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a recent commentary in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that individual NATO members should allow commanders to deploy the troops anywhere in the country.

"We need to better configure our forces in Afghanistan," Scheffer wrote. "That also means removing the limitations individual nations have placed on their troops."

About 31,000 NATO troops from 37 countries are serving in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Germany currently has around 9,000 troops deployed around the world on peacekeeping missions, including Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Africa.

Source: Xinhua

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