Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Germany won't extend AWACS to Afghanistan: Guttenberg

Reuters - Germany will not extend for the time being the deployment of AWACS surveillance aircraft to Afghanistan when the current mandate expires in mid-December, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said on Tuesday.
Guttenberg said the reason for the decision was a dispute about overflight rights over Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan from the NATO air base in Turkey.

He said if the dispute is resolved the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft could still be deployed.

"For the time being we're not going to extend the mandate of the NATO AWACS planes," Guttenberg said. "If the conditions change, we'll take a new look at the situation. In principle, we stand fully behind the AWACS operations."

In June, then Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said NATO would deploy four AWACS surveillance planes to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, along with 100 German military personnel, as part of the NATO air security agreement.

The mandate expires on December 13. Germany last week announced it would send 120 more soldiers to northern Afghanistan to reinforce its base in the Kundus province. Germany has the third largest continent in the NATO-led mission with 4,200 troops.


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