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Germany may increase Afghanistan troops: paper

Germany's Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung talks to German ISAF soldiers during his visit to camp Marmmal at the German ISAF headquarters in Masar-i-Sharif north of the Afghanistan capital Kabul Januar 30, 2008. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition plans to discuss raising the upper limit on the number of troops Germany can send to Afghanistan under its parliamentary mandate, a paper reported on Thursday.

The Frankfurter Rundschau cited unnamed coalition sources as saying an increase of at least 500 troops was expected and that Germany’s parliamentary mandate would definitely be changed.

The existing mandate, which expires in mid-October allows Germany to send up to 3,500 soldiers to Afghanistan.

The paper said a meeting to discuss the increase would include senior figures in Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), with whom she shares power.

The paper gave no further details.

Germany is under mounting pressure from its NATO allies to boost the number of soldiers it has in Afghanistan and to send them to the more dangerous southern part of the country.

The government denied a magazine report at the weekend which said it was planning to expand the number of soldiers it could send to Afghanistan by 1,000 to 4,500 and broaden their base of operations from the north to the west.

The mission is unpopular among most Germans.

Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Charles Dick