Germany's defense minister said Wednesday that his country was committed to its mission in Afghanistan, where it has more than 4,000 troops, but that President Hamid Karzai's new administration must outline a clear plan for the future.
Karzai won his presidential re-election campaign by default earlier this month, after his main challenger pulled out of a runoff vote claiming it would not be free or fair. Karzai, whose inauguration is set for Nov. 19, has come under intense international pressure to ensure his new government cracks down on rampant corruption.
Germany's Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is the latest in a series of foreign ministers and world leaders who have publicly pressured Karzai, hedging financial and military support on his willingness to battle corruption and tackle reforms.
"We are committed to our mission here, but we need to know what the Afghan government plans as the next step and how they want to succeed in that," Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said during an unannounced visit to Kabul.
Germany's mission in Afghanistan is not popular at home, but the government has not come under significant pressure to pull out. All the main political parties, including most of the opposition, support keeping German troops in the country.
"We need to see results, and that is not only in the interest of the Afghan government but as well for the international community," the minister said before heading into a meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country.
Guttenberg is accompanied on his visit by Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the general inspector of the German army.
Asked about the German mission in Afghanistan, Guttenberg acknowledged that progress had not been made in every area German troops are based.
"In some areas over the past year we were successful, in others there is stagnation," he said.
Most German troops are stationed in the northern province of Kunduz, a formerly relatively peaceful area that has seen an increase in Taliban activity in recent months. A total of 36 German soldiers have been killed so far in the mission to Afghanistan. Continued...