Hillary Clinton thanks Belgium

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Prime Minister Yves Leterme met Hillary Clinton Friday evening together with Foreign Minister Seven Vanackere and Defence Minister Pieter De Crem.

After the meeting PM Leterme said that Hillary Clinton thanked Belgium for making an extra effort to send more troops to Afghanistan.

"The meeting gave me the opportunity to share the decision of the council of ministers (Friday morning) to increase the Belgian contingency in Afghanistan."

The decision means that there will be a second OMLT (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team) of 30 instructors deployed to the city of Kunduz in North Afghanistan. The team will train and give advice to Afghan military personnel.

Belgium will also send two or three policemen and a magistrate to Afghanistan as part of a European offer of support to the Afghan judicial authorities. The Belgian government is also naming a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The special envoy will represent Belgium during international talks on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The new troops for Afghanistan will bring the total number of Belgian troops there to over 600.

Talks between two strong allies on a number of issues
Belga PM Leterme said that Hillary Clinton was very grateful to the Belgian government for the extra efforts. Mr Leterme also noted the new approach of the American government in handling global affairs.

During Mr Leterme's talks with the U.S. Secretary of State the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo also came up. "The two countries reiterated their will to continue working together to help stabilise the country also through the continued presence of a United Nations peace operation," said Mr Leterme.

And finally Mr Leterme and Ms Clinton discussed the challenges Belgium will face during its six-month presidency of the European Union (the second half of 2010). The 2 leaders promised to keep in close contact on all issues that concern both countries.


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