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PM softens stand on Guantanamo inmates

Wednesday 15 July 2009

The Netherlands may be prepared to take several prisoners from the US Guantanamo Bay prison to help ensure the camp is closed down, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Tuesday.

Speaking after his first formal meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington, Balkenende said: 'if the closure is held up by a couple of prisoners, the Netherlands will see what it can do'.

But no proposals were made and no guarantees were given and the problem was discussed in general terms, news agency ANP said.

One of the first promises made by Obama after his election was to close the prison on Cuba where several hundred people have been held without trial.

The Netherlands was a strong opponent of the camp but until now had always refused to consider taking ex-prisoners. But 'a solution must be found and the Netherlands will think and work towards that solution,' the prime minister said.


During their meeting, Obama invited the Netherlands to join the next G20 summit which takes place in Pittsburg in September.

The Netherlands is not a member of the group, made up of the world's biggest economies, but was on the guest list for previous summits in Washington and, most recently, London.


President Obama also praised Dutch military efforts in Afghanistan, saying Dutch soldiers 'are some of the most effective' in the region.

The president said he recognised the Dutch involvement is controversial and hoped the expertise and experience the Netherlands had built up in the region would remain available even when the Netherlands pulls out next year.

Balkenende repeated that the Netherlands will pull back as a leading nation in the southern province of Uruzgan next year, but emphasised that the Netherlands will not turn its back on Afghanistan, ANP reported.

For the Washington Post transcript of the press conference, click here

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I don´t know why the media in Holland is going absolutely mad over political B.S talk. Balkenende did fine and handled himself quite professional, he didn´t commit to anything, he was vague. In other words, Balkenende played perfect politics with the president without insulting Obama.

By sandra | 15 July 2009 1:42 PM

As the world knows that Netherlands is and have been playing very strong role against the War On Terror after the 9/11.

Dutch Army is playing a very very constructive role in Afghanistan. They have been sacrificing their lives in struggle to get rid of Al Qaeda and Taliban's who believe in that by killing innocent and civilians through suicidal acts or using Kleshnikov is a just thing!

Who ever is responsible for the past mistakes and blunders but now we need to make any body understand that 'Any sort of Terrorism every where at this globe would not be tolerated.

Its a long war and we all have to pay the price to save our future generations from those who are seeking to destroy the peace.

Being a Dutch citizen I am proud of our soldiers that away from their loved ones they are helping Afghanistan and Pakistan to get rid of all sorts of violence and extremism.

And now coming to the Guantanamo Prisoners, I would say its our moral obligation to find a solution along with the American Administration and other Allies.

Netherlands should not hesitate by allowing the inmates from that notorious prison,letting these people be tried in the International Courts.

The Hague with her status of International Legal City should provide logistic help. Let the world realize that Netherlands is a country helping and supporting justice by letting these accused of terrorism to be moved at the Dutch Soil.

Dutch public,media,think tanks,political leadership,the parliamentarians should help and support the prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his cabinet to go a head.

Let us join hands for this to provide best possible opportunity to these accused and let us make sure that those who are proven guilty, should get such punishments that all those who support and work for spreading terrorism on our planet should start thinking that " its over we can not win the war against the hundreds of millions of peace lovers.

To my fellow Dutch citizens," its an opportunity for us to let the world know/see that Netherlands cares for the rest of world!!

By Khalid Ahmed Chaudry | 15 July 2009 5:08 PM

Khalid wrote
"As the world knows that Netherlands is and have been playing very strong role against the War On Terror after the 9/11."

you should read this about
The secret military support of the Dutch government to Bush's war in Iraq



By Dr.No. | 16 July 2009 2:49 AM

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