BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers have voted to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan by a year, signing off on a plan to gradually reduce troop levels toward an eventual complete withdrawal.
The plan was agreed to by a large majority Thursday. It extends the troop deployment through January 2013, but sets a ceiling of 4,900 soldiers, reduced from the maximum 5,350 over the last year.
The overall reductions are part of plans by the U.S. and other allies to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014.
Also Thursday, Italian Premier Mario Monti assured visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Italy would give economic and civilian support after 2014 withdrawal. The two signed a long-term cooperation agreement on the first stop of Karzai's European tour.