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German foreign ministry opens new consulate, airport in Mazar-i-Sharif

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, June 9 (UPI) -- The German foreign minister Sunday opened a new consulate in Afghanistan, saying Germany will support Afghanistan after NATO combat troops leave.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's opening of the new consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif City -- Germany's first consulate outside Kabul, the capital -- is part of a German effort to show commitment to a civilian partnership with Afghanistan after the planned NATO exit by the end of next year, Khaama Press of Afghanistan reported.

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Westerwelle attended a ceremony for the opening of a civilian airport in Mazar-i-Sharif, which was funded by $65 million from Germany, the report said.

"We will not leave Afghanistan in the lurch. Germany will maintain its broad civil engagement and will continue to train Afghan security forces," Westerwelle said.

Germany plans to maintain between 600 and 800 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, and will give the country as much as $754 million per year for further development, the report said.

Germany has 4,200 combat troops stationed in Afghanistan, mainly in the north.

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