News - Afghanistan
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged during her visit to Afghanistan that the Karzai government promote greater political reconciliation with insurgents, saying there had been progress but that much more was needed, according to the newswire Reuters.
Merkel made the comments during an unannounced visit on Monday to Mazar-e-Sharif to visit German troops in the Nato-led security force.
"It is important that there be a political reconciliation process. It won't be possible to achieve it with military means alone. A political reconciliation process has been pushed forward by the Afghan government and there was some progress in recent times," she said.
Merkel's visit came a day after the shooting of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier in Kandahar province, an incident which has reignited calls for Nato to exit the country.
Merkel and other national leaders, including US President Barack Obama, have refused to be drawn into saying they would hasten their countries' pullout as a result of the recent upheaval.
Merkel even voiced doubt that the foreign forces could achieve the level of stability they wanted before the planned withdrawal in 2014, nor was the reconciliation process at a point where Nato could leave soon.
"It has not yet reached a level where one could say that we can pull out today. For that reason I cannot say we will manage this by 2013-2014," she said, according to newswires.
Merkel spoke with Karzai by phone from Mazar-e-Sharif and offered her "personal condolences" following "the terrible actions of a US soldier," a German government spokesman said.
Germany is the third biggest supplier of troops to the 130,000-strong Nato-led forces after the US and Britain.
It has around 4,900 troops in Afghanistan, most of them based in northern Kunduz province. Fifty-three German soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the start of 2001.