German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to continue military aid to Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of foreign forces from the war - torn country in 2014.
Merkel, who was accompanied with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, made the announcement on Friday in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The German chancellor set conditions for the support and called on Kabul to develop democratic institutions in the country. With around 4,300 troops deployed in the provinces of Kunduz, Balkh and Badakhshan, Germany has the third largest contingent in Afghanistan after the United States and Britain. The German chancellor stated that Germany would “keep an eye on the political process moving forward” in Afghanistan, where it has vowed to keep up to 800 soldiers, following the planned withdrawal of US-led forces from the country by the end of 2014. On April 18, the German defense minister announced that Berlin had proposed to keep between 600 and 800 of its forces in Afghanistan from 2015 to 2017. In late January, the German parliament extended the presence of German military forces in Afghanistan until the end of 2014. The plan to keep the mission in Afghanistan is widely unpopular among the German public, but the country’s political factions are supportive of the decision. German troops have been in Afghanistan since October 2001, when US-led forces invaded the country. The German army also sent its first Tiger attack helicopters to the country in December 2012.