German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly supports the plans of US President Barack Obama for extending the US military presence in Afghanistan, her spokesman on Friday said.

Obama announced on Thursday that the United States will keep the 9.800 soldiers in Afghanistan for most of the following year, saying the Afghan forces are not as strong as they would have been for a legally justified retreat.

"It strongly supports Mr Obama's announcement yesterday about further US involvement in Afghanistan," Steffen Siebert said at a news conference. "This announcement is an important signal to the international community, it is an important signal to US partners, but above all, an important sign for the Afghan people."

Obama has stated that "keeping this modest but significant presence can be crucial".

Over the next year in Afghanistan, 9.800 soldiers should remain, and after 2016. 5.550 soldiers in a few bases, including Bagram, near Kabul, Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south of the country, announced the US president.

(Hina) xm