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U.S. Envoy to Germany Cites Troop Decision

September 30, 2005

BERLIN (AP) _ The new U.S. ambassador to Germany on Thursday praised Berlin’s decision to boost its troop presence in Afghanistan and said Germans and Americans need to look forward as they improve relations _ not back to their past dispute over Iraq.

In a speech to business and political leaders, Ambassador William R. Timken Jr. cited the German parliament’s vote Wednesday to boost the maximum troop strength from 2,250 to 3,000 as an example of U.S.-German cooperation on an important security issue.

``At present, Germany provides the second-largest military contingent in Afghanistan and plays a vital role in stabilizing the northern part of that country,″ Timken said.

``And as we all know, just yesterday that commitment was reaffirmed. As a result of these efforts, Afghanistan is building a democracy that reflects Afghan traditions and history and shows the way for other nations in the area.″

Parliament also voted to extend the deployment for a year. German troops serve with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Timken, who took up his post Aug. 24, told his audience he was there to carry out a mandate from President Bush to improve relations by building on the summit meeting between Bush and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Mainz in February.

Relations between the two Cold War allies were strained by Schroeder’s vociferious opposition to the U.S. led war in Iraq. Bush and Schroeder patched things up in Mainz but the relationship remains more businesslike than warm.

Germany is helping train Iraqi security personnel outside the country.

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