Germany prepares way for its troops to stay in Afghanistan

BERLIN (AP) — The German government is preparing the way for the country’s troops in Afghanistan, the second-biggest contingent in a NATO force, to stay in place until next year if needed. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new draft mandate that would enable German troops to stay until Jan. 31. German troop deployments overseas require parliamentary approval, which is typically granted on an annual basis. The current mandate for Afghanistan expires at the end of March. NATO has just under 10,000 troops in the war-ravaged country, helping to train and advise Afghan security forces.