Home Dutch News Opposition calls for end to Iraqi security mission

Opposition calls for end to Iraqi security mission

Published on 16/03/2004

16 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — Despite denying that it was yielding to terrorism, main opposition party Labour PvdA has urged the Cabinet to end the Dutch peacekeeping mission in Iraq, rather than extend it beyond 1 July.

PvdA leader Wouter Bos said the Dutch involvement in Iraq has proceeded well, but that it was time to bring the troops home. He denied the decision was linked to the Madrid bombings last week and said the party had been formulating its stance for some time.

He said the US has had 18 months to build a broad coalition of troops in Iraq, but had failed to do so and it was no longer wise for the Netherlands to take a leading role in the peacekeeping mission. There are 1,300 Dutch troops stationed in the south of Iraq.

The Cabinet is reportedly keen to extend the mission by at least an extra six months and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende implicitly criticised on Monday the Spanish Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his intention to pull Spanish peacekeeping troops out of Iraq.

Balkenende said on Monday that the international community “must not turn away from Iraq” because that would not be “in the interests of the country”.  Without explicitly referring to the Dutch troops, the prime minister also said that “yielding to terror” is not the right choice.

A survey commissioned by RTL news indicated that a majority of the Dutch population believes the nation’s troops should leave Iraq on 1 July. The GFK survey of 500 people found 61 percent of respondents felt it was time for other countries to send troops to Iraq.

And President Bush said after meeting Balkenende on Tuesday he understood that the Netherlands was weighing the pros and cons of extending the Iraqi peacekeeping mission.

His comments came after the government coalition rejected the PvdA plea to bring the troops home. A CDA spokesperson said the demand would mean giving in to terrorism and frustrating the creation of democracy in Iraq.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news