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Dutch minister demands better Iraqi mandate

Published on 18/03/2004

18 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp has said the United Nations should give a “better mandate” to international troops in Iraq once US and British forces hand power over to local authorities at the end of June.

The UN is presently working on a new Security Council resolution, which aims to maintain Spain’s involvement in Iraq following the threat from Spanish Prime Minister-elect José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to withdraw his nation’s troops.

Minister Kamp also said after meeting in the Pentagon with US Defence Secretary Colin Rumsfeld that both he and his American colleague were optimistic about renewed UN involvement in Iraq.

The US hopes the UN can help smooth the transfer of power and the staging of democratic elections next year.

Kamp also said that Iraq had requested the UN via letter to return to Iraq and urged the Security Council to pass a new resolution, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

The UN withdrew from Iraq last year after a bomb attack on its headquarters in Baghdad and Kamp said the invitation was important for the Dutch government, which must soon decide if it will keep its troops in Iraq beyond 1 July.

But Kamp refused to speak ahead of a Cabinet decision, which is expected to be made in April of May. The Lower House of Parliament, de Tweede Kamer, must also approve the mission’s extension.
The Netherlands presently has 1,300 Dutch troops in the south of Iraq, but Kamp refused to respond to demands from main opposition party Labour PvdA to pull the nation’s troops out.

But a spokesman for the ruling Christian Democrat CDA said earlier this week the demand would mean giving in to terrorism and frustrating the creation of democracy in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Kamp said Rumsfeld did not pressure him to commit troops to an extended mission in Iraq, the same as President George Bush refrained from doing so when meeting with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Tuesday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Iraq