Army minister under fire over Afghanistan

Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop will come under heavy fire in parliament this afternoon during an emergency debate on his statements about the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, says NOS tv.

In December, the Telegraaf published an authorised interview with the minister in which he said that there would be no Dutch involvement in Afghanistan beyond 2010 – a statement which was quickly dismissed by other ministers.
At first Van Middelkoop denied giving the interview but was then forced to retract that statement. On Wednesday, the minister sent a letter to MPs apologising. ‘I regret that I did not give an adequate answer to questions,’ Van Middelkoop said.
But opposition parties from across the political spectrum say the minister’s regrets are not enough and are questioning his suitability for the job. His comments have also irritated army chiefs, NOS tv reports.
This is the third time Van Middelkoop, a member of the orthodox Christian party ChristenUnie, has been under fire in parliament. Last year, he said he was pleased he had not had to do military service.

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