Afghanistan needs more support: Balkenende

The international community has a long-term responsibility towards Afghanistan and must not allow it to become a ‘failed state’ again, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Monday after talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper in Ottawa.

Afghanistan was not just an issue for Nato, Balkenende said. The EU, the UN and international aid groups should all have a far more visible presence in the region.
In particular the Afghan government should send more troops and police to the southern part of the country, Balkenende told reporters.
While saying he wanted to keep in close contact with the Canadian government on Afghanistan, the Dutch prime minister refused to go into details about how long the Dutch mission will last.
The government is due to take a decision this summer about whether to extend the stay of the 2,000 Dutch troops in the southern province of Uruzgan.
But, ANP reported, Balkenende did say Dutch efforts to develop the country, one of the poorest nations in the world, would continue until the end of 2009.
‘At the same time, we should not forget the enormous need in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa,’ Balkenende said. ‘Circumstances there also demand the involvement of the international community, and thus the Netherlands,’ he said.

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