Asia Crisis

Germany warns Afghanistan to battle corruption

KABUL, Nov 12 (Reuters) - The Afghan government must step up efforts to root out crime and corruption if it wants to retain the confidence of the German government, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said on Thursday.

On his first trip to Afghanistan since taking on the defence portfolio last month, Guttenberg said Germany, whose parliament is due to vote in December on whether to extend its peacekeeping mandate there, needed to see "clear cut" signs of progress.

"I made our expectations to the Afghan government very clear," Guttenberg said after meeting Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul. "We talked about things like corruption, battling crime and good governance," he added.

"Just paying lip service isn't good enough: the Afghan government has to meet these targets," said Guttenberg, 37, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

The Bundestag house of parliament would likely vote to extend the Afghan mandate next month said Guttenberg, who switched from Economy Minister after Merkel won enough votes to form a centre-right coalition in a September election.

Germany, which because of its turbulent past has long stayed out of overseas military operations, has about 4,200 soldiers, the third largest contingent of troops in the NATO mission in Afghanistan that is made up of 67,000 U.S. troops and 42,000 from allied nations.

Opinion polls show most Germans oppose the involvement of their forces in Afghanistan. The German government has resisted pressure from the United States in past years to divert its troops to violent areas in the south. (Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Matthew Jones)