Defence minister sorry for Uruzgan statement

Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop apologised to MPs on Monday evening for his premature comments about extending the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, saying ‘all options are still open’.

Van Middelkoop caused a political outcry when he told the press that the Netherlands had the ‘intention’ to extend the stay of Dutch soldiers following Friday’s cabinet meeting.
The Netherlands is due to pull out its 1,600 troops in August 2008 but so far NATO has been unable to find a country willing to take over their tasks.
The cabinet has stressed it is looking into all possible options and will take a definitive decision later this summer.

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