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Military

German Cabinet extends military missions in Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali

German military operations in several conflict zones will continue for at least one more year, as far as the Cabinet is concerned. The ministers have approved the proposal, which now heads to parliament.

The German Cabinet extended several military operations abroad on Wednesday. The decision - if approved by parliament in the coming weeks - will see a prolonged German armed forces presence in Kosovo, Lebanon and Mali.

There was no immediate comment available from the group of ministers following the meeting in Berlin.

Germany's mission in Kosovo will enter its 15th year in June. Of the NATO members participating in Kosovo Force, known as KFOR, Germany currently has the largest contingent, barely outnumbering US forces in the former Yugoslav territory. As of 2013, the number of German soldiers stood at 681, or just over 10 percent of the total personnel mandated with ensuring safety and stability in Kosovo.

Participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), would also be extended an additional year. Germany contributes roughly 170 personnel to the Middle Eastern country, where the UN is mandated with monitoring hostilities between Lebanon and Israel.

The Cabinet also extended Germany's armed presence Mali, where it has deployed troops for two separate missions. Following the commencement of a French-led military operation in the Sahel country in 2013, Germany agreed to provide logistical support in the form of air transport for the UN-backed mission MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), as well as training to military personnel under an EU agreement. Wednesday's decision by the Cabinet would affect only logistical operation, not the training mission.

Germany's new defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has been promoting greater involvement of the country's military in crisis regions, with a particular focus on Africa. However, public enthusiasm for sending troops into foreign countries is low in Germany, where conscription was ended in 2011. A survey by the public news broadcaster ARD showed that 61 percent of Germans do not support greater military engagement abroad.

kms/mkg (AFP, dpa)

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