German minister threatens to skip London Afghanistan conference
Monsters and Critics.com
Dec 28, 2009
Berlin – German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will refuse to attend next month’s conference on Afghanistan if its agenda is limited to discussing a troop surge, he said in an interview published Monday.
His remarks came only a day after the German defence minister said he favoured a withdrawal timetable, amid growing signs that the Germans may refuse to significantly enlarge their troop contingent.
‘If the Afghanistan conference in London turns purely into a conference on providing troops, I won’t be travelling there,’ said Westerwelle in an interview with the German weekly magazine Stern. The report appeared on Stern’s website.
He demanded a ‘broad political approach’ and an ‘overall strategy’ for the Afghanistan conflict.
Westerwelle added that it was ‘healthy’ that German voters were unenthusiastic about sending German troops abroad, saying, ‘If it were the other way round, I would be worried.’
Over the past month, Germany has dragged its feet in the face of calls from US President Barack Obama to help with a push to defeat the Taliban. Its defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was quoted Sunday calling for a ‘concrete withdrawal strategy.’
‘I think it’s right to make clear to our citizens when the withdrawal is to begin, what objectives we are pursuing and which intermediate steps to achieve this are necessary,’ Guttenberg said.