Coalition to back longer Uruzgan mission

The Dutch military mission in Afghanistan is almost certainly to be extended for two years after the current mandate expires in August 2008, according to reports in almost all the Dutch papers on Friday morning.

The three coalition parties, including Labour which has been the most sceptical on the issue, have now agreed to keeping Dutch troops in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan according to sources in The Hague, reported public broadcaster NOS which broke the news on Thursday evening.
The decision has been made because the Dutch do not want to abandon the Afghani people to the Taliban, NOS said.
The new mission will be smaller that the existing one which has around 1,600 permanent soldiers on duty in Afganistan thanks to military support promised by France, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
The military trade unions told the broadcaster they are concerned about the decision to keep troops in Afghanistan because of a lack of sufficient resources. ‘Significantly more money is needed’ for the operation to be successful said Jan Kleijan of the ACOM.
Trouw too stressed that the mission will need more funding and said this must come from the aid budget or directly from the treasury.
The cabinet is expected to discuss the Afghanistan issue today but will not make a final decision until next Friday.

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