BERLIN, Jan 2 (KUNA) -- German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and
prominent members of Bundestag (the federal parliament of Germany) have
pressed on Saturday for starting a gradual handover of the security command in
Afghanistan from NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to
local authorities this year.
In an interview with the German-speaking Focus news magazine to be
published in the southern city of Munich on Monday the minister said: "At the
Afghanistan conference we should be working towards beginning the hand-over
process for security responsibility from 2010 on."
"The conference, due in London on January 28, should adopt a new strategy
for Afghanistan," Westerwelle, chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP),
Meanwhile, leader of the FDP parliamentarians Birgit Homburger said: "The
objective we seek in Afghanistan is neither to realize full reconstruction nor
to build a democracy in the Western style."
"Such an objective requires keeping our forces in Afghanistan for at least
20 years," she argued.
In similar statements to the Focus, Hans Peter, MP from the FDP, urged
development of a "tangible exit policy" from the Central Asian country.
On his part, member of the conservative Christian Social Union in Bavaria
(CSU) Andreas Schockenhoff called for an early pullout saying: "I don't wish
to see the last German soldier leaving Afghanistan after five years."
He urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to have a louder voice during the London
conference on the German participation in ISAF.
Rainer Arnold, a military expert and member of the opposition Social
Democratic Party (SPD), suggested introducing radical changes to the mission
of the German contingent in Afghanistan by 2013.
The changes should ensure enabling the Afghan security authorities to
discharge their responsibilities effectively, he said in statements to daily
Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung.
SPD's Chairman Sigmar Gabriel stated opposition to militarization of the
German foreign policy.
All international efforts should focus on overhauling all aspects of the
infrastructure and reconstruction in Afghanistan, he said in an interview with
Der Spiegel daily.
Similarly, Wolfgang Ischinger, a security expert and former diplomat, said
he believed that the security command should be handed over to the Afghans
gradually during the coming two years.
With 4,500-strong contingent stationed in Afghanistan's northern areas,
Germany is the third-largest troop-contributing nation to the ISAF after the
United States and the United Kingdom which have 34,800 and 9,000 troops
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