German military guards can now use U.S. military facilities like post exchanges, commissaries and dining halls.

The troops, who are guarding about 60 military posts in Germany, are restricted from buying items in any mass quantity, but allowed to buy items for daily use.

The move comes after an agreement between the U.S. military and the Germans, and a letter from Germany’s finance minister lifting the restriction on the Bundeswehr guards.

The troops may also use clubs, theaters and gyms.

With many U.S. soldiers deploying to the Gulf, Germany recently pledged 2,500 troops to defend Army installations.

Though the cooperation comes at a time when German and American relations are strained because of jostling over Iraq and talk of U.S. cutbacks in Germany, the military denies the moves are about improving relations.

“This is not a political thing,” said Sandy Goss, spokesman for the Army Installation Management Agency in Europe.

“It’s simply a gesture recognizing that these guys are here, helping us, and we’re trying to make their lives a little easier.”

Many of the German troops come from posts several hours away from the installations they now guard.

Though it’s a change for exchanges and commissaries in Germany, allowing allied troops access to such facilities is not unheard of. It’s routine in the Balkans and Central Asia as well as large bases in the United States such as Fort Belvoir, Fort Hood and Fort Bragg, according to an Army news release.

“The bottom line is, we serve coalition partners everywhere,” said Maj. Mitch Edgar, spokesman for AAFES- Europe. “It’s not unusual to see German soldiers in the exchange, at least not downrange.”

The finance minister’s dispensation allows the German troops to buy groceries for domestic use, detergents and cleaning agents, toiletry items except perfume, and other low-value merchandise not worth more than 25 euros per day.

They may also purchase a single package of cigarettes per day, as well as coffee and alcoholic beverages.

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