Dutch put off decision on Afghan mission

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The Netherlands will not take any decisions over the future of its mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan until the result of Afghanistan’s presidential election result is clear.

The Netherlands - At a NATO meeting in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop said “The legitimacy of the Afghan government is crucial.”

At the meeting, the minister came under pressure from other countries not to end the mission now that the trend is to send more troops. Other defence ministers praised the Dutch approach and could not understand why the Netherlands would want to pull out of the war torn country.

US president Barack Obama also complimented the Dutch mission when he took office and announced a new approach for US troops. The Dutch method is similar to the kind of mission US general Stanley McCrystal now propagates.

The Dutch government also wants to wait until US President Barack Obama has taken a decision on whether or not to send 40,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. There are currently 100,000 Western troops taking part in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

Recently in the Dutch parliament Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen refused to rule out extending the Dutch mission in Uruzgan as there was a new president in office. When the Netherlands joined the ISAF forces in 2006, the government stated categorically that the mission would not extend beyond 2010.

Afghanistan will go to the polls for a second round of the presidential elections on 7 November. The second round is being organised after Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission found evidence of mass fraud in favour of incumbent president Hamid Karzai. Karzai first claimed victory in the election. However the findings mean he no longer has a 50 percent majority, therefore rendering a second round necessary.

Radio Netherlands/Expatica

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