Dutch to explore non-military Afghanistan mission

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Reconnaissance for a new Dutch Afghanistan mission is likely to begin shortly, according to sources close to the Dutch government.

MPs are expecting to be notified by the cabinet on Friday about preparations for a police training. Once the Lower House has been informed, the government can send a small exploratory team of military and diplomatic staff to investigate the feasibility of such a mission.

Dutch participation in the ISAF military mission in Afghanistan ended earlier this year, after deep disagreement in the previous government about an extension of the Netherlands' military presence there. Rather than sending combat soldiers, a majority in the Lower House favours helping Afghanistan build its own police force.

Opposed Prime Minister Mark Rutte hinted last week that the two parties of his minority cabinet are canvassing for support in the Lower House, seeing that Geert Wilders' Freedom Party remains opposed to any new mission. The Freedom Party has agreed to vote with the government on a number of crucial issues, but these don't include a police training mission in Afghanistan.

Mr Wilders' party argues that sending a few dozen trainers and a 500-strong force with air support to protect them amounts to a new military mission.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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