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Merkel says no plan to change German missions in Afghanistan
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08:54, February 19, 2008

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that Germany is not planning to change or expand its mission in Afghanistan despite mounting pressures from NATO allies.

"I see with a certain measure of concern some debates within NATO," she told reporters.

Merkel rejected accusations that Germany has failed to share military burdens in Afghanistan by deploying its troops only in the relatively peaceful north region.

Germany was taking on much the same role as its partners in the country, she said.

There could be no reconstruction without security, but there could also be no security without reconstruction, she said.

Germany has bluntly rejected a NATO request to send extra troops to the more volatile southern Afghanistan as an increasing number of Germans have become skeptical about the military missions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier this month in a key security meeting in Munich that some nations are "forcing other allies to bear disproportionate share of fighting and dying," alluding to Germany.

Some 3,500 German troops, the third biggest contributor after the United States and Britain, are currently deployed in northern Afghanistan under the 43,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

NATO has reportedly been struggling to plug holes in the military missions in Afghanistan where security concerns have intensified recently.

Canada has threatened to pull out its soldiers unless European allies such as France and Germany send additional troops to the southern Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua

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