NATO defence ministers meet in Noordwijk

Defence ministers from 25 NATO countries are meeting in the seaside resort of Noordwijk today for two days of talks which are expected to focus on sending more troops to Afghanistan and the tension on Turkey’s border with Iraq.

Parts of the sea front at Noordwijk have been almost completely sealed off and the area has been declared a military area because of tight security. Local residents have been reported to being subjected to random stop and search operations.
Many of Wednesday’s newspapers carry photographs of tanks and barbed wire surrounding the hotel Huis ter Duin where the talks are taking place. The Telegraaf reports that military aircraft are involved in surveillance and that a minesweeper is monitoring the coast.
The Netherlands is one of several countries under pressure to extend its commitment to Afghanistan. The Dutch mandate for sending its troops to the country expires next summer and the government is currently considering whether to extend it. But it has made it clear that it expects other NATO members to do more.
The Netherlands also has to convince MPs and much of the public of the wisdom of remaining in Afghanistan. Holland has some 1,700 troops in the country, making it one of the biggest contributors to the NATO reconstruction efforts.

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