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Labour Party leader Wouter Bos has denied that the upcoming local elections played a role in the decision to refuse to compromise on a possible extension of the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan.
The original mission has already been extended once and the coalition parties had agreed that troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2010. Earlier this month, NATO formally requested that Dutch troops stay in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Balkenende's Christian Democrats and the smaller Christian Union wanted to keep all options open, including the possibility of extending the mission but Labour demanded that the coalition agreement be adhered to.
"We decided very early on not to make a decision in the light of the upcoming elections. It is very hard to tell what effect the decision will have anyway," said Mr Bos. He also said that he thought it was strange that a cabinet would collapse because one of the coalition partners was determined to carry out cabinet policy. He added, "it was a difficult decision to make".
A few hours after the government collapsed, the Labour leader was out on the campaign trail in Utrecht.
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