FM reassures MPs over Afghan training mission

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Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has reassured the opposition that Afghan police officers trained by the Dutch will only be deployed in accordance with an agreement between the Netherlands and Afghanistan.

His comments are in reponse to written questions from the opposition on the police training mission in the Afghan province of Kunduz. One of the most important stipulations by parliament for the mission to go ahead was that the police officers trained by the Dutch would not be deployed to combat the Taliban.

The opposition's questions were raised following a television interview by RLT nieuws with a police commander in Kunduz on Sunday. In the inverview the commander inidcated there was a real chance that his men will be deployed to fight insurgents.

He said fighting is not the primary objective of the police officers but, in the case of a Taliban attack, they must defend themselves, seal off the area and hold it until anti-terrorist units arrive.

However, the foreign minister says the officers will only carry out civilian duties and will not be deployed in a military offensive.

Minister Rosenthal says the police commander's comments are "in line" with an agreement between the Netherlands and Afghanistan, presumably because the commander refers to defensive action.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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