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Germany Votes To Extend Afghan Presence
Friday, 28-Jan-2011 5:24PM United Press International
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BERLIN, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Germany has extended its "Afghanistan mandate", which will keep some 4,600 German soldiers in the war zone for at least one more year, officials said.

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The German Parliament passed the extension Friday, with the two coalition parties under Chancellor Angela Merkel and the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, approving the measure; the Green party and the Left party voted against the mandate, Stars and Stripes reported.

The Parliamentary vote goes against German public opinion, with two-thirds of the country's populace saying they want German troops pulled out of the conflict.

Germany's troops make up the third-largest contingent in the military coalition after the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Green party's Hans-Christian Stroebele demanded an immediate change of strategy in Afghanistan, saying a continuation of the war "is irresponsible" and advocating peace talks and an immediate halt to military operations.

Germany says it will begin a gradual withdrawal of its troops starting this year, to be completed by 2014.

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