KABUL — German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Nov. 12 on a visit to Afghanistan that his government would decide in the coming days on the next steps in withdrawing troops from the country.
De Maiziere told a press conference with his Afghan counterpart Bismullah Khan Mohammadi that the cabinet would agree “within the next week” on troop levels during the drawdown over the next two years.
“First of all, the redeployment of our troops until the end of 2014 will be reliable, sufficient and sustainable,” said De Maiziere, who was on his 10th visit to the country as defence minister. “In Germany, we will make a decision within the next week.”
Germany has about 4,800 troops in Afghanistan, the third-largest contingent under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, behind Britain’s 9,500 troops and about 68,000 U.S. troops.
It has agreed with its NATO partners to gradually pull combat forces out of the country by the end of 2014 as Afghan troops assume more responsibility for security.
De Maiziere pledged that Germany would work with NATO allies in deciding what military equipment and training capabilities would remain in the country when the troops leave.
A report in October in the Der Spiegel news weekly said Berlin plans to significantly reduce its troops in the country to “comfortably under 4,000” when the government asks parliament in January for a new mandate for the force.
The government has declined to comment on the figure.