Netherlands firm on Afghanistan pull-out

The Netherlands will not give in to American pressure to keep its troops in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan past August 2010, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen is reported as saying in Thursday’s Volkskrant.

The Dutch decision to pull out its 1,700 soldiers ‘is fixed’, Verhagen told reporters at a news conference about next week’s Afghanistan summit in The Hague.
Verhagen is due to hold talks with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton ahead of next week’s meeting. The US wants more commitment from European countries.
Verhagen said he did not think the conference – which will be attended by delegates from 80 countries and 20 aid and other organisations – will focus on foreign troops and financing, the paper says.
The ‘best political strategy’ will be central to the debate, Verhagen said. The conference is also about showing ‘involvement and solidarity’ with Afghanistan, the Volkskrant quoted Verhagen as saying.

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