Defence minister in surprise visit to Uruzgan
21 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — Defence Minister Henk Kamp has made an unannounced visit to Dutch troops serving with the international stabilisation force in Afghanistan.
21 June 2006
AMSTERDAM — Defence Minister Henk Kamp has made an unannounced visit to Dutch troops serving with the international stabilisation force in Afghanistan.
Kamp visited Kabul and Kandahar before travelling to Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan where 400 soldiers are preparing the headquarters for the main force of 1,400 men and women. They will start operating in the province on 1 August to help with reconstruction.
His visit was kept secret because of the recent increase in Taliban activity in the area. Kamp's security advisors were worried that the Taliban might have tried to kill him if the visit had been announced in advance in the Netherlands.
The media was allowed to release the news of the story only after Kamp left from Tarin Kowt on a Hercules transport plane on Wednesday morning.
Kamp said the prospects of success for the Uruzgan reconstruction mission are difficult to predict but he has confidence in the abilities and commitment of the Dutch force. He warned, however, this is the most dangerous operation the Netherlands has been involved in since Korea in the 1950s.
The situation in Uruzgan has deteriorated in recent weeks as the Taliban has launched a major drive to regain influence. Suicide bombings and attacks involving sophisticated explosive devices have become more frequent.
Major-General Jouke Eikelboom, commander of the advance party, said the success of the reconstruction mission would largely depend on the respect the Dutch show for Afghan culture and Islam. "We are in their country, don't forget that. That this was not always 100 percent with the Americans is a reality."
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news