Merkel defends role in Afghanistan

German leader rejects criticism over Nato airstrike suspected of killing 54 civilians.

    Friday's airstrike was targeted at Taliban fighters who had hijacked two fuel trucks [AFP]

    "We will not gloss over anything, but we will not accept any premature condemnation," she said.

    "I refuse to tolerate that, either from Germany or from abroad."

    'Big mistake'

    Earlier on Tuesday, the Nato-led force in Afghanistan said it believed civilians were killed or injured in Friday's strike, after previously saying that civilians were only harmed.

    General Stanley McChrystal, the head of international forces in the country, has ordered an investigation into the bombing.

    The strike was reportedly ordered by a German commander after Taliban fighters hijacked two fuel trucks on a Nato supply route from Tajikstan.

    Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called the decision a major "error of judgment".

    Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, also called the airstrike a "big mistake", while Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, said it was a "very, very sad event".

    Power transfer

    But Merkel defended Germany's role in Afghanistan, where it has more than 4,200 troops stationed.

    "No one should deceive himself: the consequences of not acting will be attributed to us just as much as the consequences of acting," she said.

    "Everyone who calls for Germany to step aside from fighting international terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan, should consider that."

    The chancellor said she had spoken to Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, about beginning a new era in the country.

    "Now is the right moment, together with the new Afghanistan leadership, to set out at the end of this year how this transfer of responsibility will happen," she said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.