Germany aims to keep an Afghan contingent after pullout
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany wants to keep between 600 and 800 soldiers in Afghanistan from 2015 when most international troops will have withdrawn, Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday.
The soldiers would have a two-year mandate to train Afghan security forces and would also provide logistical support, sanitary aid and protection, he said.
After that two-year period Germany would pare the mission down to a maximum of 300 soldiers concentrated in the capital Kabul to provide further training and support, de Maiziere said.
No final decision on the issue is expected until after Germany's national election in September. Any decision would be subject to the backing of the U.N. Security Council as well as of the Afghan government.
Around 4,350 German soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan. In January Germany's Bundestag lower house of parliament agreed to reduce the number of soldiers to 3,300 by February 2014.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) plans to withdraw by the end of 2014 and hand responsibility for security to Afghan soldiers and police.
(Reporting by Thorsten Severin; Writing by Michelle Martin, Editing by Gareth Jones)