Germany welcomes Obama's Afghan plan

June 23, 2011 - 2:32 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's foreign minister has welcomed President Barack Obama's announcement that he will start to pull troops from Afghanistan — and underlined Berlin's hopes of reducing its own contingent later this year.

Guido Westerwelle said Thursday that "the prospect of withdrawal is now becoming concrete."

He says Obama's speech on Wednesday was a "clear commitment" by the U.S. to the internationally agreed strategy of gradually handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

Westerwelle stressed that "it is also our aim to be able to reduce our own German troop contingent for the first time at the end of this year."

Germany has some 4,900 troops in northern Afghanistan and hasn't yet settled on details of its pullback.