Dutch defence minister visits troops in Afghanistan

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Defence Minister Hans Hillen paid a visit to the Dutch troops in Afghanistan at the weekend. His spokesperson said that the new defence minister wanted to pay visit to the Dutch troops abroad as soon as possible.

At the Dutch base of Camp Holland near Tarin Kowt on Sunday, Mr Hillen took part in a solemn ceremony during which an iron monument honouring the 24 Dutch dead in Afghanistan was dismantled. The monument will be transferred to the Netherlands.  

The minister, who arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, met with his Afghan colleague Abdul Rahim Wardak and General David Petraeus, the US commander of the International Security Assistance Force. About 900 Dutch soldiers are still in Afghanistan. About half of them are involved in dismantling the Dutch mission in Uruzgan province and shipping military material back to the Netherlands. The others are involved in the operation and maintenance of the Dutch F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopter gunships still active in Afghanistan.  

The Dutch defence minister will later travel to the Kenyan port of Mombassa for a one-day visit to the Dutch naval units taking part in an anti-piracy mission off the Somalian coast. Two Dutch ships are involved in the mission: the frigate HNLMS Amsterdam and the submarine HNLMS Zeeleeuw Sea Lion


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