Karzai: Better if Dutch troops remain in Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that his war-torn country would benefit if the Netherlands maintained its military and civilian presence in Afghanistan, rather than withdrawing as planned.
Kabul - President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that his war-torn country would benefit if the Netherlands maintained its military and civilian presence in Afghanistan, rather than withdrawing as planned.
About 2,000 Dutch troops are deployed in the province of Uruzgan, one of the most insurgency-hit regions in southern Afghanistan.
The deployment is set to end next year.
"The decision of the Dutch parliament and government about ending the duration of the Netherlands' troops in Afghanistan is a sovereign decision," Karzai told reporters.
"Afghanistan would benefit if the Netherlands continued to support Afghanistan in the training of the Afghan army and police, and with reconstruction assistance until Afghanistan can safely stand on its own feet and defend itself, be a country better than it is today," he said.
Karzai was speaking at a press conference with Prime Minister Yves Leterme of Belgium, which has 500 troops in Afghanistan.
The United States and NATO members have 113,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan to fight a Taliban-led insurgency being fought by the remnants of the militia that was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
They are set to increase troop levels by around 37,000 over the course of 2010 as part of Washington's new war plan for Afghanistan.