Merkel urges real progress in Afghanistan by 2014



BERLIN, September 7, 2009 (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan to speed up their mission in the country to achieve real progress by 2014.
"We must proceed faster (...) We must see to it that a huge step forward is made within the next five years," Merkel said on German television, less than three weeks before general elections.
Amid rising criticism of Germany's military role in the international security force in Afghanistan, Merkel said Afghan authorities must also be made to understand "that we will not remain forever".



Merkel urges real progress in Afghanistan by 2014
Merkel spoke after coming under fire over a NATO air strike, ordered by a German commander in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province Friday that killed at least 54 people, according to local officials, who say the dead were mostly Taliban militant fighters who had hijacked two fuel tankers.
Anguished debate in Germany about civilian casualties comes amid already meagre public support for the army's deployment in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Germany, along with Britain and France, unveiled on Sunday their plans to hold an international conference later this year on the fate of Afghanistan, underlying growing concerns that the security situation is deteriorating.
At a joint press briefing with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Merkel urged Afghans to take more responsibility for their own country.
Merkel, who said full light must be shed on Friday's incident in Kunduz, was to address parliament over the air raid on Tuesday.
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Tuesday, September 8th 2009
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