Defence minister wants more social aid for Afghanistan

More effort on the redevelopment of Afghanistan is essential to establish peace in the country, said Dutch defence minister Eimert Middelkoop in an open letter published in Australia on Monday.

Middelkoop is currently visiting Australia which is the Netherlands’ most important military partner in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan where around 1,600 Dutch soldiers are involved in the UN peace-keeping and reconstruction mission.
‘Military efforts against the Taliban must be coupled to social development programmes,’ says Middlekoop’s letter quoted by news agency ANP. ‘More effort from the UN, other international organisations and NGOs is necessary to ensure this process does not evaporate’.
The Dutch minister is due to meet his new Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon for the first time on Tuesday. The visit is part of the Dutch government’s preparations for the Nato summit in Bucharest at the beginning of next month.
Middelkoop’s letter also paid tribute to the work of the Canadians in Uruzgan: ‘I do not think we could have asked for a better and more committed partner,’ he is quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper. ‘It is easy to work together with like-minded people… The first year and a half have not been easy and we both suffered casualties.’
On Wednesday, Middelkoop will travel to Queensland where Australian and a small group of Dutch soldiers are preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.

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