Wikileaks: US pressured Labour leader over Afghanistan

Labour MPs have reacted with shock to claims that senior Dutch civil servants urged US officials to pressure former Labour party leader Wouter Bos to support a continued Dutch military mission in Afghanistan.

The claims flow from US diplomatic cables leaked by the Wikileaks website. Labour’s refusal to back a longer stay in Afghanistan eventually led to the government’s collapse.
In one cable, officials write that Bos must be made aware the Netherlands’ invitation to take part in an important G20 summit is thanks to the country’s efforts in Afghanistan.
‘Senior Dutch officials… have repeatedly asked the embassy to have a senior Washington official convey to Bos the real reason for the Dutch G20 invitation,’ the cable states. ‘They complain ‘he just doesn’t get it,’ reflecting the frustrations of the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister, who support the Dutch remaining in Afghanistan post-2010.’
Another cable talks of the ‘discreet, coordinated engagement’ necessary to assist committed Dutch leaders in gaining consensus from Bos and later approval by parliament.
Labour MPs now want a parliamentary debate on the issue. ‘If this is true, we have a big problem,’ Labour MP Ronald Plasterk told the Volkskrant. ‘Imagine a US civil servant making plans with the Dutch government against president Obama? It’s impossible to imagine such a thing.’
For more on the Dutch cables, click here

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