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Germany's Merkel Makes Surprise Afghan Visit

Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with a German soldier during a visit to a base in Konduz, in northern Afghanistan, on May 10.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

Officials said Merkel on May 10 flew into Mazar-e Sharif, the northern Afghan city where German forces are based.

She is being accompanied by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

The visit comes six days after a German soldier was killed in a clash with Taliban insurgents, in what is described as the first death of a German soldier in Afghanistan in two years.

Germany’s 4,300 German troops in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014, along with the rest of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

But Germany has also proposed it could keep some 800 personnel in Afghanistan beyond that date to train and assist Afghan security forces.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa