Germany pulls out NATO operations in Mediterranean

The German Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Germany has pulled out of NATO operations in the Mediterranean.

A spokesman of the ministry told DPA, the local news agency, that Germany has regained the command of two frigates and two other ships with a total of 550 crew in that area.

Some 60 to 70 German troops who have joined in NATO airborne surveillance operations in the Mediterranean might also be included in this withdrawal action, he said.

Earlier this month, the NATO launched a naval operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya according to a resolution adopted by the UN at the end of February.

To withdraw those ships and troops is to avoid possible fighting, said the spokesman, as use of force when necessary is part of the arms embargo.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Those affected ships and troops have been involved in three NATO operations in the Mediterranean, including the anti-terror mission Active Endeavour.

However, it remains unclear whether the ships will leave the Mediterranean, the spokesman said.

Earlier on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for a full-scale oil and gas embargo against Libya, but ruled out again that Germany will join in the military actions against Libya, saying Germany was still skeptical about the action and determined not to become a military partner in this operation.

However, the German government has agreed to send about 300 air force personnel to Afghanistan to relieve the manpower stress on its NATO allies in Libya, local media reported on Tuesday.

Last week Germany also abstained in a UN Security Council vote to permit “all necessary measures,” including air strikes, to impose a no-fly zone and protect civilians in Libya.

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