Dutch politicians in row over Afghanistan mission

3rd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen who views Obama's new Afghan plan positively says Labour Party is misrepresnting the facts.

The Hague – Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has reacted angrily to the statement made by the Labour party while insisting the Netherlands pull out of the Afghanistan mission.

Verhagen said Labour, one of the coalition partners, is misrepresenting the facts.

Labour Party MP Martijn van Dam said Wednesday US President Obama should call on Spain, Italy and France to provide extra troops, as he claimed their contributions had been inadequate.

He went on to say Obama should call Madrid or Rome, not The Hague, if he wants help with his final troop surge.

The United Kingdom, Italy and Poland have committed extra troops, while Spain is considering to do so.

While the cabinet has yet to decide on the issue, the Labour Party which joined the coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende under the condition that the Dutch would not commit any troops to ISAF after the end of the current mission in 2010 strongly opposes to committing extra troops.

A majority in the lower house opposes an extension.

The US ambassador with NATO, Ivo Daalder has called on the Dutch to remain in Uruzgan province after next summer.

In an open letter to de Volkskrant, Daalder, who is Dutch, praises the Netherlands as "a strong ally who has performed very well".

The paper also reported that US Vice President Joe Biden rang Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Wednesday and expressed, "the hope that the Netherlands will remain engaged in Afghanistan after 2010".

On Tuesday, Obama ordered 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan and called on NATO allies to supply more troops for to the war-ridden country

Both Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop, respectively of the Christian Democrat and Christian Union parties, took a positive view of Obama's strategy announcement.

Former armed forces commander Dick Berlijn said the Netherlands should remain active in Afghanistan. He argued Obama's new Afghan plan to send more soldiers and withdraw in 2011 has created a new situation.

In response to Obama's speech, a Taliban spokesman said the troop reinforcements would "provoke stronger resistance and fighting" and claimed the international forces would be ousted as was the British army in the mid-19th century and the Soviet army in the 1980s.

"They will withdraw shamefully. They cannot achieve their hopes and goals," he said.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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