BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly welcomes President Barack Obama's plans to prolong the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, her spokesman said.
Obama announced on Thursday that the United States would maintain a force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, saying Afghan forces were not as strong as they needed to be to justify a faster pullout.
"She strongly welcomes yesterday's announcement from President Obama on the future U.S. engagement in Afghanistan," spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference on Friday.
"This announcement is an important signal to the international community, it is an important signal to the alliance partners of the United States but above all an important signal to the Afghan people."
(Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Caroline Copley)