Cabinet dismisses talk of Afghan crisis

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — Government Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold said on Tuesday he was "absolutely not afraid" there would be a crisis within the coalition government over the decision whether to send a new military mission to Afghanistan.

20 December 2005

AMSTERDAM — Government Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold said on Tuesday he was "absolutely not afraid" there would be a crisis within the coalition government over the decision whether to send a new military mission to Afghanistan.

He was responding to anonymous reports D66 would walk out of the three-party coalition government if the Cabinet decided on Thursday the mission would go ahead.

The coalition - made up of the Christian Democrats (CDA), Liberals (VVD) and D66 - has postponed a decision on the Afghan mission three times. So far only the Liberal Party has given full backing to the mission.

The D66 faction in parliament is against sending 1,200 troops to the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan as part of an expanded Nato force in Afghanistan.

Nato agreed earlier this month to boost the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from 9,000 to about 15,000 troops next year. There are currently 600 Dutch troops in Afghanistan.

D66 is worried about the poor security situation in Uruzgan, and about Dutch troops being involved in offensive US-led combat missions against the Taliban, rather than peacekeeping.

MP Bert Bakker of D66 refused to speculate on a possible political crisis on Tuesday, but he said the Afghan question "was considerably heavier" than the row about compensating the public for high energy costs.

That disagreement almost led to the collapse of the coalition earlier this month, Bakker told a radio programme.

Bakker said it was likely the cabinet would vote in favour of the mission on Thursday. MPS will debate the issue in January.

The government will likely not persevere if it can only muster slender majority support in parliament for the deployment, the MP said.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's CDA has yet to take a final stance on the mission. Dismissing talk of a potential crisis, Balkenende said on Tuesday the Cabinet would "weigh all the arguments" on Thursday.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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