Aiding Afghanistan too expensive for Belgium

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Belgian finance ministry says the proposed extension of Belgian military activity in Afghanistan is too costly.

25 July 2008

BELGIUM - The planned extension of Belgian military activity in Afghanistan is costing the country too much, reveals Finance’s Ministry inspection team.

The Belgian government intends to send an extra 4 F16-fighters as well as 100 soldiers to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in order to extend the current Belgian mission in the war-torn country.

At present some 100 Belgian military men monitor the airport in the capital Kabul whilst others work as part of reconstruction teams in the North of the country.

That mission is to be extended and if Defence Minister Pieter De Crem has his way, the Belgian army’s activities in the country will be widened even more.

De Crem wants to extend the current fighter mission by 2 months and send an extra 55 engineers.

De Crem’s plans meet with fierce opposition from a finance inspection team.

In a report, the financial experts say Belgium is holding ambitions it can’t afford. The only possible way for the plans to go ahead, is by reducing the Belgian military presence in Kosovo, Kabul, Lebanon and Congo.

According to the opposition MP Dirk Van der Maelen, 2008’s defence budget will be exceeded considerably. Van der Maelen points out that if the mission is extended further than February, it will be at the cost of other foreign operations.

[ / Expatica]

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