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1ST LEAD Germany's von der Leyen promotes would-be coalition on Jordan trip By Nico Pointner, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen used a meeting with German troops in Jordan on Saturday as an opportunity to promote Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s would-be grand coalition, saying that the government would provide a "good foundation" for the Bundeswehr.

Von der Leyen was visiting the al-Azraq air base in Jordan to meet with Bundeswehr troops supporting a US-led military coalition against Islamic State after a November trip was cancelled due to the political impasse on forming a government.

Some 260 troops moved to Jordan from Turkey last year amid a row between Germany and Turkey that escalated when Ankara started to deny lawmaker delegations access to the site.

Since then, Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU), of which von der Leyen is a member, and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), have agreed to embark on coalition talks and issued a preliminary outline of their policy goals on Friday.

The outline gives an indication as to how much of the federal budget will be allocated to the Bundeswehr next year, with von der Leyen referring to it as "a good foundation for the Bundeswehr‘s tasks."

The minister said despite the fact that more money would be allocated to military equipment and training, "we will need plenty of stamina until the empty structures within the Bundeswehr are filled out in the coming years."

The Bundeswehr has repeatedly come under fire in recent years for its outdated equipment and its rank and file often complain about a lack of resources.

The document detailing the CDU and the SPD‘S preliminary agreement also said that "the anti-IS mandate to support and protect our allies, especially France, can be significantly reduced" during the coming legislative period.

Islamic State has suffered substantial territorial losses in recent months after a coordinated effort by military leaders in Syria, Iraq and Russia.


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