11 May 2013

Merkel and Defense minister make quick visit to Afghanistan

10:30 am on 11 May 2013

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Friday, visiting a memorial to 53 German soldiers who have died there.

Deutsche Welle reports they visited the German headquarters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, before traveling by helicopter to the Bundeswehr base at Kunduz, where they paid their respects to the fallen soldiers.

During the visit, Mrs Merkel stressed that the world would not forget Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international troops.

"We will be watching to make sure that the political process continues," she said, pointing to presidential elections in 2014 and the need to boost the domestic economy.

"None of this is accomplished without a little difficulty, taking a little more time than we would want," Mrs Merkel said.

"However, it is essential so that the military operation does not merely come to a standstill, but that it is a real success."

Germany has 4300 troops in Afghanistan, who are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.