Balkenende meets Karzai
12 September 2007, KABUL (AFP) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, visiting his country's troops in Afghanistan Tuesday, urged the international community to remain active in the war-torn country.
12 September 2007
KABUL (AFP) - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, visiting his country's troops in Afghanistan Tuesday, urged the international community to remain active in the war-torn country.
Balkenende, on the first day of his surprise visit, met the Dutch contingent at the NATO military base in the southern province of Uruzgan, one of the most violent areas. Later he held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The 1,700-strong Dutch force is part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which has around 37,000 troops in Afghanistan.
"We lose lives, but we know that the Netherlands has a role here to play in Afghanistan," Balkenende told a joint press conference with Karzai in Kabul.
"It's important that the international community stays active in Afghanistan, because it is not only about Afghanistan itself, it has a worldwide dimension," he added.
Karzai said he appreciated Dutch military and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan. He also asked the Dutch contingent to stay longer as the Dutch parliament discusses its continuing presence.
"The Netherlands has sent its soldiers here, putting their lives at risk for security in Afghanistan," said Karzai.
"So with all what the Netherlands is doing in Afghanistan, naturally Afghanistan will try its best to keep the Netherlands forces and the Netherlands assistance in Afghanistan for a longer time," he said.
Balkenende met Dutch soldiers stationed in Tarin Kowt, capital of Uruzgan, and in the southern town of Kandahar. He was accompanied by Dutch Deputy Defence Minister Cees van der Knaap.
[Copyright AFP 2007]
Subject: Dutch news