German defense minister and conservative politician Ursula von der Leyen said she would discuss extending the foreign deployment of Bundeswehr troops with all parliamentary parties in the upcoming weeks, independent of whether or not a German government has been formed.
In an interview with German media group Funke Mediengruppe, von der Leyen called for troop deployment to be extended for one year.
“I would welcome extending deployment early next year — and not just for three months but once again in the typical pattern of one year.”
She added that Germany’s partners are counting on its continued military presence abroad. The greatest number of German troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, Mali and North Iraq, von der Leyen said.
“In all three countries we stand with our partners in the fight against terror.”
A 3-month stopgap extension
The Bundeswehr’s foreign deployment mandates in seven countries were due to expire either at the end of this year or at the end of January 2018.
The ongoing search by Angela Merkel’s conservatives to form a government means that many government functions, such as proposing the future arrangement of troop missions abroad, remain in limbo.
The German parliament is required to approve the government’s requests for troop extensions. Earlier this week, the German parliament extended the foreign deployment of German troops in seven nations by three months each in order to ensure foreign policy continuity.
In debate, speakers from all parliamentary parties made it clear that any extension of troop missions in Syria and North Iraq must be newly debated and decided in parliament given recent successes in the fight against “Islamic State” (IS) in those areas.
Von der Leyen argued that the task of fighting IS and stabilizing Iraq had not yet been accomplished.
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