The Hague readies for Afghanistan summit

30th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Security measures include closing areas of Dutch airspace above The Hague are closed, limiting access to the city and reallocating large demonstrations.

THE HAGUE – Access to The Hague may be restricted on Tuesday as officials from more than 100 countries attend a major conference on Afghanistan. 

While the city will not close down completely, a spokesman for The Hague local council said there may be restricted access to the city while convoys pass. 

The meeting is expected to be opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other world leaders in attendance.

About 20 extra personnel have been deployed by the military police to accompany dignitaries from the airport to The Hague. About 30 delegates are scheduled to arrive via Schiphol Airport on Monday but their arrivals are likely to go unnoticed as they will be picked up from their airplanes. 

Eleven extra flights carrying dignitaries for the conference will land at Rotterdam Airport, which is often used for government flights.

Large areas of Dutch airspace above The Hague have been closed in preparation for Tuesday. Flight restrictions will be tightened prohibiting flights within a radius of 50 kilometres of the city and under two kilometres high. 

Regular flights to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam Airport will be allowed through. No flights will be allowed directly above the conference venue at the World Forum in The Hague.

More than a hundred military police will deal with the general security at the conference. Border controls along the German and Belgian borders have also been tightened. 

Five organisations have announced they will demonstrate in The Hague during the conference. Smaller organisations will be able to rally close to the World Forum on the Stadhoudersplantsoen where as larger demonstrations have been allocated locations elsewhere in the city.

The conference will build on a new US strategy unveiled last week to tackle the rising Islamist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and strengthen the Afghan state by rooting out corruption and ramping up reconstruction.

"This is a chance to get everyone together and ensure that the political commitment is there and we are aligned on what the priorities will be," the UN spokesman in Kabul, Adrian Edwards, told AFP.

The Hague conference will help build momentum behind "the work that needs to be done now that we have the strategy review out," he said before travelling to Europe at the weekend.

The United Nations has welcomed the new plan, notably its call for building Afghan institutions and an emphasis on increasing the number of civilians working here.

Radio Netherlands / AFP / Expatica

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