MPs have urged the government to clarify claims in a regional newspaper that the US did ask the Netherlands to lend military support to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Regional paper De Stentor carries an interview with former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage in which he states ‘there was absolutely a request… for military support… We sent official documents and we sent diplomats to the Netherlands. I call that a request.’
Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who was also premier at the time of the war, has always denied that the US made an official request for help.
Armitage told the paper there could be no doubt about Washington’s intentions. ‘We were only after military help. We thought the Iraqis would welcome us with flowers and that we could leave quickly. And that is what we told our allies,’ the paper quotes him as saying.
The Netherlands eventually gave the war political but not military backing.
De Stentor claims that the Netherlands was rewarded for its support. For example, Armitage saw to it personally that Holland did not face sanctions for its role in human trafficking to the US, the paper says.
And the Dutch position on Iraq helped the country’s foreign minister at the time, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, to get the job of secretary general of Nato.
The Dutch government is under increasing pressure to agree to a parliamentary inquiry into events surrounding its support for the Iraq war.
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