MPs debate Uruzgan mission extension

MPs will today debate cabinet plans to extend the Dutch military mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan until 2010.

And while a vote in favour of staying in Afghanistan is not constitutionally necessary, support is weakening, according to Monday’s NRC.
In particular, the position of the opposition Liberals (VVD) is seen as important. Liberal spokesman Hans van Baalen said on Sunday that he still wants guarantees that the cost of extending the mission will not come out of the defence budget.
He also wants €60m for training to be put on the table this year, rather than be delayed until 2008.
Van Baalen also says there must be no other missions while the Dutch are in Uruzgan and that his party is does not agree with the ‘patchwork’ of countries serving alongside the Dutch, the paper says.
In 2006 the socialist SP, GroenLinks and D66 were against the original decision to send Dutch soldiers to Afghanistan. The three parties then had 23 seats, less than one sixth of the 150 total. Since the election that has risen to 35 seats. If Geert Wilders’ PVV, which has been highly critical of the mission, also votes against, the total will rise to 44 seats.
Parliament will vote on the extension of the mission until August 2010 on Thursday at the latest.

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