Expatica news

Rumsfeld thanks Belgian troops for Afghan role

10 June 2005

BRUSSELS – US defence minister Donald Rumsfeld has thanked Belgium for the work of its troops in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld, who arrived in Brussels on Thursday for a Nato meeting, met Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt for talks.

He praised the 300 Belgian soldiers who are part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headed by Nato.

The Belgians are playing a key role, protecting and partially helping to run Kabul international airport.

Belgium has also pledged to send reinforcements to help maintain stability in the country in the run-up to elections on 18 September.

From mid-July, four F-16 fighter planes will be sent to Kabul and 15 soldiers will be sent to a German-commanded reconstruction team in Kunduz in the north of the country.

Rumsfeld, though, expressed his concern to Verhofstadt over the EU intention to lift the arms embargo to China.

The prime minister’s spokesman Didier Seeuws told the press Verhofstadt had replied that the EU wouldn’t lift the embargo without serious consideration and without attaching a code obliging China to behave if sold weapons.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news