DJIBOUTI (Reuters) - German Defense Minister Karl-Theo zu Guttenberg said on Wednesday he regretted the departure of U.S. General Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan.
“McChrystal was a very reliable partner. I regret not being to work with him any longer,” said Guttenberg, on a trip to visit German troops in the Horn of Africa.
U.S. President Barack Obama fired McChrystal over inflammatory comments the general made which angered the White House.
“I expect there to be no change in the strategy with this move,” said Guttenberg, who is in charge of 4,300 German troops stationed in the Afghanistan. Berlin in February decided to increase its presence in the region to 5,350 troops in order to get on top of deteriorating security. The additional troops are expected to deploy in July.
Germany, which has the third largest presence in Afghanistan, has been criticized for its post-World War Two restrictions on combat. Polls show most Germans oppose the involvement, which Chancellor Angela Merkel vows to continue.
Forty-three German troops have died in Afghanistan since 2002, many of those deaths occurring in recent months.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold, writing by Nicholas Brautlecht and Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Matthew Jones