German parliament will expand military mission in Afghanistan

Germany's parliament met Wednesday to approve a one-year extension to the mandate of the country's troops in Afghanistan and to increase the size of its contingent.

Some 2,250 German soldiers serve in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, and their current mandate from the German parliament expires Oct. 13.

Defense Minister Peter Struck appears assured of broad support for his plan to extend their stay and increase the maximum size of the contingent to 3,000. The increase is designed to let German soldiers shoulder more responsibility in the north of the country.

"The situation in Afghanistan demands that German soldiers must continue to be present, and so parliament will today approve an extension of the mandate," the AP quoted Struck as saying.

Struck said the Germans would give Afghanistan logistical support in fighting the drug trade, but added that "German soldiers will not engage in a direct fight against drug traders."

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