Neither the Dutch defence minister nor the foreign affairs department have any knowledge of plans by the Australian government to send extra troops to Afghanistan to compensate for a withdrawal of Dutch soldiers, reports ANP news service.
Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop told the radio programme Met het oog op Morgen that he was ‘taken aback’ by the news which was published in an Australian newspaper.
According to The Australian, the Dutch government is working on a proposal which would lead to a ‘gradual withdrawal’ of its troops. Australia currently has around 1,000 military personnel in Afghanistan working with the 1,600 Dutch troops.
The Dutch cabinet is expected to decide shortly whether its soldiers should continue with the NATO mission after its current mandate expires in August 2008.
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