German defence minister committed to Afghan troop training
Mar 26, 2011, 10:15 GMT
Kabul - German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere stressed Saturday on his first visit to Afghanistan that his country was commited to the train Afghan security forces.
The partnership of German and Afghan forces on the front lines was 'key to the success' of the ultimate transfer of security responsibility to Afghans, de Maiziere said following a meeting with Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.
De Maiziere downplayed a shooting spree by an Afghan soldier in which three German soldiers were killed a month ago as an isolated incident.
The German minister also confirmed that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would hand over the first seven cities and provinces over to the Afghan army and police starting in July.
De Maiziere, who also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said that Afghan authorities had a great deal of admiration for the German military.
The German official arrived in Afghanistan early Saturday on his first visit to the country since taking office three weeks ago.
'It was important for me to come quickly,' he told German troops. 'I am here as a learner.'
De Maiziere is also scheduled to meet with the commander of the international forces, US General David Petraeus.
The trip came hours after the German parliament Friday approved the increase of the German contingent in Afghanistan by 300 air force personnel, to free up resources for deployment to Libya.
De Maiziere replaced Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former rising star of the ruling coalition, who resigned in early March when it emerged he had plagiarised large sections of his doctoral thesis.
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