US NATO ambassador lobbies for Dutch return to Afghanistan
The US ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder cannot imagine the Netherlands turning its back on Afghanistan. At a lecture at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, the NATO ambassador said it would be logical for the Netherlands to send troops to protect Dutch police trainers in Afghanistan.
The Dutch parliament however, has great difficulty with the idea of sending troops back to Afghanistan. A Dutch mission in the province of Uruzgan only ended at the beginning of August.
The Netherlands is the first and so far the only country to end its Afghan mission. "Even Tonga has sent 50 people," said Mr Daalder, who originally comes from Holland.
Other countries may follow the Dutch example and withdraw their missions, thinks Mr Daalder. But the new strategy desperately needs trainers for police and soldiers, so that Afghanistan can take care of its own security in future.
Ivo Daalder was in the Netherlands on Monday to lobby for a new training mission. The new cabinet is in favour of sending around 50 trainers, protected by 300-500 troops and four F-16 fighter planes.
The minority conservative VVD-Christian Democrat government cannot rely on support from the Freedom Party on this issue. The Labour Party and Green Left are in favour of a civilian police training mission, but are reluctant to support its military character.
Mr Daalder said the troops will not be involved in combat as that is the job of other ISAF-troops.
The US NATO ambassador stressed the special role played by the Netherlands in founding the organisation 61 years ago. He warned that the Netherlands had made a great investment in Afghanistan, but would not share in its success by leaving now.
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