Germany not first in line to send more troops to Afghanistan: minister

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen speaks as she visits soldiers at the Bavarian Saaleck barracks, a site of a multi-national U.N. training ground, in Hammelburg, Germany, July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

ECKERNFOERDE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany will not immediately send more troops to Afghanistan in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s request for more backing as it increased its presence last year at a time when others were cutting, the defence minister said.

Ursula von der Leyen welcomed Trump’s commitment to continuing the U.S. mission, but said Germany would not be among the first nations to contribute more.

“We increased our troop numbers by 18 percent last year when others were cutting theirs,” she said during a visit to a submarine base in north Germany on Tuesday.

“So we don’t see ourselves in the front row of people who should be asked for more soldiers.”

Having run for the White House last year on a pledge to withdraw swiftly from Afghanistan, Trump reversed course on Monday and promised a stepped-up military campaign against Taliban insurgents, saying: “Our troops will fight to win”.

U.S. officials said he had signed off on plans to send about 4,000 more U.S. troops to add to the roughly 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan.

Reporting By Sabine Siebold; Writing by Thomas Escritt