Afghanistan still hoping for new Dutch mission

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The Afghan government still hopes Dutch forces will remain involved in Afghanistan. During a two-day trip to the country, Dutch caretaker Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop heard pleas for a continued Dutch presence from both Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and ISAF Commander David Petraeus.

Mr Van Middelkoop also spoke to President Hamid Karzai, who praised the Dutch contribution in Uruzgan since 2006, reinforcing the call for Dutch troops to stay on, says the defence ministry.

The Netherlands ended its mission in the southern province of Uruzgan on 1 August. It was wrangling over a continuation of the mission that brought down the coalition government in February this year. Senior coalition partner the Christian Democrats wanted to carry on in Afghanistan, while the Labour Party insisted on sticking to the agreed timetable to pull out. Since then the Netherlands has had only a caretaker government, and a decision on renewing the mission has been left hanging.

Defence Minister Van Middelkoop also visited Camp Holland in Uruzgan and the NATO base in Kandahar, where hundreds of Dutch troops are busy packing up their equipment for the return to the Netherlands.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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