Opposition likely to support Afghanistan mission

The opposition liberal VVD party seems likely to support cabinet plans to extend the Dutch military mission to Afghanistan, report various media on Tuesday morning.

This would give the cabinet a clear paliamentary majority for its decision. All parties are to make their final stance on the issue public on Tuesday afternoon, reports public broadcater NOS.
Monday’s parliamentary debate on the cabinet plans to remain in the southern province of Uruzgan until August 2010 appear to have quietened the fears of the VVD which is now likely to vote in favour of the move later this week, reports Tuesday’s NRC.
All the opposition parties pointed out during the debate that the Netherlands began its two year mission in August 2006 with the proviso that NATO would find countries to take over from the Dutch in 2008. When this did not happen, NATO asked the Dutch to extend its mission until the summer of 2010.
The opposition parties are concerned that the Dutch will again be asked to stay in Afghanistan after the new deadline, but foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen (Christian Democrats) assured them the Netherlands will leave at the end of the new two year period, says the NRC.
Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop (ChristenUnie) told MPs that ‘we can leave with satisfaction in 2010’, the paper reports. He went on to say that the Taliban is not engaging in large-scale actions which shows ‘that we are being effective’.
The cabinet agreed that there will be more attention given to the reconstruction aims of the mission, but said offensive operations like that currently taking place in the Baluchi Valley could not be ruled out.
On Monday, the International Herald Tribune reported that the Dutch government has awarded a €34 million contract to a German development organisation to rebuild roads and help farmers in Uruzgan.
Meanwhile NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has written to Verhagen to confirm that the Dutch military mission will end on July 31, 2010.

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