BERLIN — German lawmakers voted Jan. 26 to extend the mandate for German forces in Afghanistan by one year but for the first time cut the number of troops to be deployed there.
The maximum number of troops will be set at 4,900 from Feb. 1, down from 5,350 now, while another 500 will be withdrawn by 2013.
“It is clear that the work there is not yet done,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. “The path to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is still long.”
Germany, which has the third biggest NATO-led force in Afghanistan behind the United States and Britain, said at the start of the year that it aimed to begin pulling out its forces, eyeing 2014 for a complete withdrawal.
Opinion polls have shown the mission, the first major Bundeswehr deployment outside of Europe since World War II, has been consistently unpopular in the country.
The NATO-led forces are all due to be withdrawn in 2014.