Up to 450 soldiers will be deployed to the Kunduz region if parliament approves the move, said German officials on Wednesday. The decision may be ratified as early as next week.

In Kunduz they will provide security for civilian reconstruction teams, ensure stability in the build-up to next year’s elections and oversee disarmament of former combatants.

An advance contingent could be in place later this month.

On Monday the UN Security Council authorised the International Security Forces in Afghanistan (ISAF) to deploy into the provinces following repeated calls from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, world body officials and relief agencies for the mandate to be extended.

Instability

Afghanistan is still rife with rampant factional fighting and guerrilla attacks, two years after US-led forces toppled the Taliban.

A German government spokesman said troops would not necessarily be confined to Kunduz. Soldiers may also act as “mobile support” for elections, which he said would be “decisive for Afghanistan’s political development”.

There are some 1600 German soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan with ISAF in and around Kabul and a further 200 in neighbouring Uzbekistan.

While the decision is likely to be approved by the lower house of parliament or Bundestag, it has met with opposition from conservatives who fear German troops could be caught up in battle with drug runners in the region.