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Germany extends Afghanistan mission

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (center) speaks with German soldiers in Kunduz last week.
German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (center) speaks with German soldiers in Kunduz last week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • German Cabinet decides to extend country's mission in Afghanistan but won't approve more troops
  • German Parliament must still approve extension and is expected to vote on it next month
  • Deployment of troops was central issue in Germany during elections in September
RELATED TOPICS
  • Germany
  • Afghanistan
  • NATO

Berlin, Germany (CNN) -- The German Cabinet has decided to extend the country's mission in Afghanistan but won't approve more troops.

Germany's mission in Afghanistan was due to end on December 13, but the extension would keep them there until the same date next year, 2010, a spokesman for the German government told CNN Wednesday.

The German Parliament must still approve the extension and is expected to vote on it next month.

German lawmakers previously imposed a ceiling of 4,500 troops for Afghanistan. Tuesday's Cabinet decision leaves that number unchanged.

Germany currently has 4,050 troops in Afghanistan, and the German Parliament last Friday approved 100 more.

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel also decided to extend its military's participation in anti-piracy naval patrols off the Horn of Africa and in a United Nations mission patrolling the waters off Lebanon, the spokesman said.

Germany is one of 42 nations participating in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

So far, Germany has lost 36 soldiers during its mission in Afghanistan, a defense ministry spokesman said. He did not give his name, citing policy.

The deployment of troops was a central issue in Germany during elections held in September.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed withdrawing troops as early as 2011.

His rival, Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed the idea. The elections concluded on September 28 with Merkel winning another four-year term.