Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and candidate for Chancellor Armin Laschet, speaks as he attends a launch event for a hydrogen electrolysis plant called 'REFHYNE', one of the world's first green hydrogen plants, at Shell's Rhineland refinery in Wesseling near Cologne, Germany, July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
Germany's army is preparing to get embassy staff in Kabul as well as Afghan helpers out of Afghanistan as Taliban fighters take over more parts of the country, the defence ministry said on Saturday.
"It's now our top priority that we bring those worthy of our protection to Germany," defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement, adding that the operation would be mandated by parliament.
Bundeswehr forces were ready and would be deployed as soon as possible.
Germany's conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, Armin Laschet, earlier said the foreign ministry, led by centre-left coalition partner SPD, had been too hesitant to put forward a new parliamentary motion for a Bundeswehr mandate to evacuate local helpers.
He called on the foreign ministry to quickly authorise the army to assist in the departure.
"The Bundeswehr have to save these people. That's the moral obligation after everything they have done for us," Laschet said at an event in the city of Giessen.
"We can't watch them any longer being threatened by the Taliban and fundamentalists."
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the SPD said on Friday that Germany would bring forward charter flights originally planned for the end of August to evacuate non-essential embassy staff in Kabul as well as Afghan helpers.
Reporting by Andreas Rinke Writing by Ludwig Burger Editing by Alison Williams and David Holmes