Merkel urges support for Afghanistan deployment, saying 'much is at stake'

September 12, 2007 22:22

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday urged parliament to stand behind her country's troop deployment and reconstruction work in Afghanistan amid growing public skepticism about Germany's involvement. "Much is at stake in Afghanistan," Merkel said, citing the "considerable challenges" in reconstruction, security and fighting the drug trade. She spoke as a new poll showed a small majority of Germans want the 3,000 troops there to come home, and days after police said they had foiled terrorist bombings aimed at US and other facilities in Germany. Three separate mandates for Germany's involvement are coming up for debate and renewal later this fall, and opposition politicians have called for an end to the mission. Some in the Social Democratic half of Merkel's left-right governing coalition are skeptical of one of the mandates, which authorizes participation in the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, which is focused on anti-terrorism combat missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Measures authorizing the deployment of troops as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force and permitting the use of Tornado reconnaissance jets are less controversial.

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