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Germany Against US Push for NATO to Take over Command in Afghanistan - 2004-10-13

Germany says it opposes a merger of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan that is being pushed by Washington.

As a NATO defense ministers informal meeting got under way Wednesday in Romania, German Defense Minister Peter Struck said the alliance's mandate in Afghanistan was to stabilize the country - not fight international terrorism.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was expected to press the ministers to have the 26-member organization take over the U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan as early as next year.

Other topics expected to be discussed by the defense ministers at the two-day meeting, at the mountain resort of Poiana Brasov, include boosting the alliance's training mission in Iraq, ensuring security for upcoming elections in Kosovo, and new ways to facilitate NATO operations outside its traditional Euro-Atlantic area.