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Merkel Visits German Troops In Afghanistan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is welcomed by officers of the German armed forces in Kundus.
BERLIN, April 6 -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in Afghanistan to visit German troops there, a government spokesman said.

Germany has about 3,800 troops in Afghanistan and has a parliamentary mandate to send a total of 4,500 as part of the NATO mission.

Merkel, who faces an election in six months time, is reluctant to increase the number of combat troops it sends to Afghanistan for the mission, which is unpopular among Germans.

She has also resisted pressure from allies to send its soldiers to the more dangerous southern areas of the country, where allied forces are battling a Taliban insurgency. Most of the German soldiers are in northern areas.

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung was accompanying Merkel on her trip, but no further details were immediately available.