The German government has rejected US demands to deploy combat forces in south Afghanistan.
Addressing a weekly news conference in Berlin, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said that a change of the current German International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mandate was "not being contemplated."
Wilhelm made clear that Germany would continue with its current mandate providing for the deployment of up to 3,500 troops, mostly in the relatively peaceful north Afghan region as well as Kabul.
Germany's Defense Ministry had reportedly voiced anger over the sending of a "stern" letter by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who had called for the deployment of German troops in southern Afghanistan, the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine said.
Gates' eight-page letter demanded 3,200 German troops, including combat forces, helicopters and parachutists, to replace US counter- insurgency soldiers later this year to battle Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, the paper added.
German Defense Ministry circles branded Gates' rather undiplomatic letter an "impertinence".
A German Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed to journalists that Gates had sent a letter to Berlin and several other NATO states, urging them to boost their troop size in war-stricken Afghanistan.
The spokesperson did not reveal details of the letter, citing confidentiality.
Berlin has faced intense pressure in recent months from its NATO allies, notably the US, Britain and Canada, to expand its military presence into southern Afghanistan where NATO forces are battling a revitalized Taliban insurgency.
Earlier this week, NATO made an official request to the German Defense Ministry to send extra combat troops to Afghanistan as part of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), only hours after German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul for a surprise visit.
Berlin has signalled it was ready to deploy a 250-men QRF to Afghanistan to replace a Norwegian unit in July.
The QRF is mandated within the rules the NATO-led ISAF engagement, according to the German Defense Ministry.
At least 21 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since January 2002.
Around 3,500 German soldiers are presently based in northern Afghanistan and in and around Kabul as part of the ISAF mission.
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