Dutch MPs give green light for Afghan mission
6 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM − Despite a lack of enthusiasm from main opposition party Labour PvdA, a majority of Dutch MPs have backed the deployment of between 120 and 150 troops for reconstruction and security operations in Afghanistan.
6 July 2004
AMSTERDAM − Despite a lack of enthusiasm from main opposition party Labour PvdA, a majority of Dutch MPs have backed the deployment of between 120 and 150 troops for reconstruction and security operations in Afghanistan.
Most MPs were extremely pleased by responses from Foreign Minister Ben Bot and Defence Minister Henk Kamp to questions about the mission on Monday, but PvdA MP Bert Koenders warned the Dutch government about a "yoyo policy".
Koenders was referring to the return of some 600 Dutch troops from Afghanistan last year after joint German-Dutch command of the ISAF stabilisation force was handed over to Nato in August 2003.
As Nato seeks to expand its operations across the central Asian country to secure elections scheduled for September and continue reconstruction efforts, Nato member states have been requested to dispatch an additional 3,500 soldiers to bring the Nato forces in Afghanistan to 10,000.
It was revealed on 28 June at the Nato summit in Istanbul, Turkey, that the Netherlands would also deploy additional troops and only the Socialist Party (SP) refused to support the decision on Monday.
The SP said there was no clear division between the ISAF force and the US-led operation Enduring Freedom, the American government's response to the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
But given Parliament approval, the Dutch troops will now depart for Afghanistan this summer and will take up position in the province Baghlan, NOS reported. They will remain in the country for one year and form part of the ISAF mission.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Henk Kamp let out that he was considering a new contribution to Enduring Freedom, news agency ANP reported.
The Netherlands previously contributed F-16 fighter jets to assist in the anti-terror operation. The planes were based in Kirghizistan and were involved in the hunt for former Taleban fighters and al-Qaeda operatives.
Kamp also said he wants to extend the present mission involving 120 troops and six Apache combat helicopters based in the Afghan capital Kabul. The mission is scheduled to end in September and the Parliament must decide on the extension this summer.
The Dutch Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, opted on 22 June to extend a security operation in southern Iraq until March 2005, after the planned January 2005 democratic elections. There are presently about 1,350 Dutch troops in the Iraqi province al-Muthanna.
In other news, Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited the Netherlands on Monday and met with Queen Beatrix, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and ministers Bot and Kamp in The Hague.
It was the first visit the former Dutch foreign minister had made to the Netherlands since his took up duties as Nato chief in January, news agency Novum reported.
The talks addressed Dutch support on Nato missions in Afghanistan and the possible Nato training of Iraqi security forces.
De Hoop Scheffer said that all Nato member states must accept the fact they will be requested to support Nato operations, even if they are not supplying troops for foreign missions.
The security alliance chief said he backed a proposal from Minister Kamp that all Nato nations must be involved in such missions, either by deploying troops or contributing finances.
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news