Defence minister celebrates New Year with troops
Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop celebrated New Year with the Dutch troops in Afghanistan.
2 January 2008
AMSTERDAM - Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop celebrated New Year with the Dutch troops in Afghanistan. The visit began on Sunday, but was not announced until Tuesday for security reasons.
Middelkoop delivered speeches to the troops at the military bases of the International Security and Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Kandahar, Tarin Kowt and Deh Rawod in the Afghan province of Uruzgan.
After speaking with individual soldiers, Van Middelkoop said he had the impression most people were optimistic about the situation in Afghanistan.
"There is something of a sense of spring among the troops. Even in Deh Rawod, where the mission can get tough at times, I have been told that the rebuilding of the Afghan troops is progressing."
The minister, who has visited the troops in Afghanistan twice previously, flew back to the Netherlands Tuesday.
There are some 1,600 Dutch troops stationed in the southern province of Uruzgan as part of ISAF. Twelve Dutch soldiers have been killed since the mission started in August 2006.
In November, the Dutch government decided to extend its mission to Afghanistan until August 2010, while reducing the number of troops to 1,200.
[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Dutch news