Germany says NATO may stay longer in Afghanistan

Germany's defence minister says NATO troops may remain in Afghanistan for longer period of time

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen arrives at a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 8, 2015.

Germany's defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, told reporters before the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday that NATO troops may stay in Afghanistan longer than one year depending on the situation on the ground.

"I will appeal today that we don't organise the withdrawal from Afghanistan according to a rigid timetable, but that we analyze the situation there and coordinate the withdrawal accordingly step by step," von der Leyen said.

The Afghan government and NATO signed a security deal in 2014 allowing 12,000 foreign troops to remain in the country after NATO’s combat mission ended in December 2014.

NATO troops drive past in a military vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan October 1, 2015.

Germany has reduced the number of its soldiers in the country from 1,900 to 870.

"We'll need to look at how we go forward and whether we should stay longer. The developments in Kunduz show that the way that we have walked together with the Afghans ... that we have to walk on," von der Leyen said.

NATO began to launch operations in Kunduz against the Taliban in late September after the northeastern Afghan city was captured.

The city was retaken with a joint effort of by NATO troops and Afghan forces shortly after its capture.

As NATO has extended its military activity in Afghanistan in response to recent Taliban activity, NATO’s presence in the country has come under the spotlight once again.

Last week 12 aid worker and 10 patients were killed in a Kunduz hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) when it was hit by a US air strike. US General John Campbell admitted the incident was a mistake and accepted blame for the attack.

US President Barack Obama was planning to withdraw all US combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

Von der Leyen on the other hand said she was “uncomfortable” with Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year and leave 1,000 US soldiers in Kabul.

A US Army general recently stated he was supporting the plan to reduce the number of soldiers in Afghanistan, citing the threat of ISIS in the country.

TRTWorld and agencies