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Germany rejects U.S. demand for more soldiers in Afghanistan
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08:30, February 02, 2008

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Germany rejects a request from the United States to offer more troops in southern Afghanistan, a German government spokesman said Friday.

The government "has no plan" to change the German mandate in Afghanistan, Ulrich Wilhelm, chief spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters in Berlin.

"The government has made clear that the existing mandate provides the basis for our engagement," he said.

The spokesman's remarks followed a report by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has written a strongly-worded letter to his German counterpart, Franz Josef Jung, asking for additional combat troops in the more dangerous southern Afghanistan, which was confirmed by the German Defense Ministry.

"The letter came as a surprise," Wilhelm said.

Meanwhile, Jung said Friday that the German soldiers should continue to focus their reconstruction, security and training missions in the northern Afghanistan.

Some 3,000 German troops are deployed in the relatively peaceful north Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Source: Xinhua

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