Taliban 'congratulate' Dutch on Afghanistan pull-out: report
The Taliban have congratulated the Netherlands' government for the upcoming pull-out of their troops from Afghanistan, according to a newspaper interview with a spokesman from the group.
"We want to wholeheartedly congratulate the citizens and government of the Netherlands for having the courage they have had to take this independent decision," Qari Yusuf Ahmadii told Dutch daily Volkskrant.
"We hope that other countries with troops stationed in Afghanistan will follow the Netherlands example and withdraw their troops," said Ahmadii, who was described as the Taliban's spokesman for west and south Afghanistan.
The deployment of about 1,950 Dutch troops in Afghanistan ends on Sunday after four years on Sunday amid concerns about the void it will leave.
NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission, which started in 2006 and has cost the lives of 24 soldiers, by a year to August 2011.
This sparked a political row that led to the government collapsing in February and the end of the Dutch deployment.
The Labour party, which was part of the governing coalition at the time and was against extending the mission, "took one of the most important decisions ever taken by the Dutch government and its citizens," Ahmadii said.
"Once again we call on European countries that have soldiers in Afghanistan to leave the country. Because it is not your war, but a war of the United States, which aims to reach their imperialistic objectives in the world and especially in this region," he said.
© 2010 AFP