BERLIN — Germany's parliament voted by a wide margin Friday to keep the country's soldiers in Afghanistan for another year, while also endorsing the government's hopes of starting a gradual troop withdrawal at the end of 2011.
Lawmakers voted 420-116, with 43 abstentions, to approve a mandate that authorizes the continued deployment of up to 5,350 soldiers in Afghanistan through the end of January 2012.
All German military deployments abroad require parliamentary approval, typically on a yearly basis.
Germany currently has 4,860 soldiers in northern Afghanistan, a region that was long relatively calm but has seen a rise in violence over the past two years. The Afghan mission has become increasingly unpopular at home.