Germany calls for decade of engagement after Afghan troop withdrawal

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the international conference on Afghanistan, December 5, 2011

From Deutsche Welle: Germany called on the international community on Monday to remain engaged in Afghanistan over the next decade even though NATO troops are scheduled to withdraw from the war-torn nation by 2014.

Around 1,000 delegates from 100 nations and international organizations have gathered in the former West German capital, Bonn, to discuss Afghanistan’s future amid rising tensions between its estranged US and Pakistani allies as well as stalled efforts to bring the Taliban into talks aimed at a political settlement to the decade-long war. 

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Afghanistan would require "long-term engagement for the next decade beyond 2014."

"We say to the people of Afghanistan: We will not leave you alone, we will not abandon you," Westerwelle told the delegates at the conference.

As the 130,000 troops from the 49 nations participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in the ensuing years, the NATO-led coalition wants to avoid leaving behind a security vacuum. 

"Our objective is a peaceful Afghanistan that will never again become a safe haven for international terrorism," the German foreign minister said. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Afghanistan to do more to fight widespread corruption and the drug trade. Merkel said that while the international community can offer its support, "only the Afghans themselves can solve these problems."    (photo: AP)

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