Dutch cabinet makes concessions for Afghan mission
The Dutch cabinet is willing to make far-reaching concessions to persuade the opposition to back a police training mission in the Afghan province of Kunduz.
The current proposal for a six-week mission will be extended to 16 or 18 weeks. The Dutch government is seeking guarantees from Kabul that the newly trained police officers will not become an extension of the army. Dutch participation in the mission may be postponed if these guarantees are not given on time. If this agreement is broken the Dutch mission will end.
Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has also promised that one of the five legal experts to be sent to Kunduz will concentrate on the position of religious minorities, such as Christians. More legal experts could be sent at a later date. The Hague will also look into whether the police chief in Kunduz is guilty of corruption.
The Labour Party and Socialist Party, which fiercely oppose the government's proposed mission, say it is impossible to give such guarantees and that these decisions are up to Afghanistan.
The Green Left and democrats D66 tabled a motion last year to send Dutch police trainers to Afghanistan. However, the two parties felt the mission proposed by the government did not reflect the type of mission they had put forward.
The Freedom Party, which lends the minority its parliamentary support in other policies, opposes any Dutch mission in Afghanistan. As a result, the minority government needs the support of the other opposition parties.
The parliamentary meeting was suspended late on Wednesday evening. The cabinet will send a letter to parliament outlining the changes. The debate on the mission which was due to begin on Thursday morning has been postponed, possibly until next week.
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