De Maizière says Germany must pull its weight abroad militarily

Germany provides the third-largest troop contingent in ISAF, which is led by NATO and sanctioned by the UN.

From the Local (Germany):  "When one looks around the world where soldiers – from New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway – are deployed and why they are there, then one comes to the conclusion that it’s a privilege and honour for these countries to act as part of the international community , taking on international responsibilities," [German Defense Minister Thomas] de Maizière said in a radio interview.

"We must also ask ourselves such questions even when German interests are not directly at stake," he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

"We are a large and important country and want to be a large and important country, we want to retain influence in the world, and therefore, when it comes to it, and when we consider it right, we too should take on international responsibilities, not because we are forced to but because we want to," he added.

De Maizière on Wednesday outlined a large-scale shake-up in the armed forces which will see overall numbers slashed in a bid to improve efficiency.

But he also said that some 10,000 soldiers will in future be available on a permanent basis for intervention abroad, compared to just 7,000 today.

Jürgen Trittin, a leader of the opposition Green party which once advocated German neutrality, said de Maiziere was only saying openly what everyone knew.  (photo: AP)

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