Dutch minister: Kunduz primarily military mission

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The Dutch police training mission in the Afghan province of Kunduz is primarily a military mission.

Defence Minister Hans Hillen made this statement in an interview with this week’s issue of current affairs magazine Vrij Nederland. So far, The Hague has emphatically characterised the mission as being civilian in nature.

The Green Left party wants Prime Minister Mark Rutte to call Defence Minister Hillen to order. Green Left party leader Jolande Sap wants the prime minister to clarify the issue still today. 'This is just the latest in a series of blunders by the defence minister. If he does not know the difference between deploying soldiers for a civilian mission or a military one, than I believe that this calls his credibility into question.” Ms Sap said she was astonished by Mr Hillen’s statements.

In the interview, the minister said “I have repeatedly said: we must guard against superimposing our idealistic Dutch ideas on the hard realities of a war zone. Parliament can say; it’s a civilian mission, but it’s primarily a military one.”

He said he was glad parliament gave the go-ahead for the mission. “But I wanted parliament to be well aware of what it approved. I still feel it's strange that Kunduz cannot be called a military mission, while nearly all of them are soldiers. In the Netherlands we prefer just to look at the soft side of such an expedition, because we want to make the world a better place. But life is tough, and even more so in Kunduz.”

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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