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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dutch cabinet votes to extend Afghan mission until 2010

I wonder if there will be any problem ratifying the decision in the Dutch parliament. The mission is unpopular in the Netherlands but perhaps there is a majority government with good control over party members. I wonder what if any incentive the Dutch government has to continue the mission.

Dutch cabinet votes to extend Afghan mission until 2010
Last Updated: Friday, November 30, 2007 | 7:40 PM ET
CBC News
The Dutch cabinet on Friday voted to keep its troops in a violent part of southern Afghanistan until 2010, a two-year extension of the mission.

The roughly 1,700 soldiers are currently serving in Uruzgan province as a part of the NATO-led mission in the country.

"This wasn't a decision taken overnight,'' Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters. "This mission will end on Aug. 1, 2010, whatever happens."

The decision must be approved by the Dutch parliament.

The region, along with neighbouring Kandahar province where 2,500 Canadian soldiers are deployed, is the front line in the battle against Taliban fighters.

The Dutch government had been facing public pressure to end the deployment when the mandate expired in 2008. Twelve Dutch soldiers have died in the country.

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The decision "comes in response to a request by the Afghan government, NATO and the United Nations," said a news release from the Dutch government.

"The main objectives of the mission are to stabilize the country, support the government, army and police, and train Afghan units so that they can eventually take over."

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the organization welcomes the decision, said Reuters.

NATO has been pressuring its members to contribute more troops to the violent south, where U.S., British, Dutch and Canadian troops have taken on some of the heaviest fighting.

Seventy-three Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan since the mission started.

Canada's mandate is set to expire in February 2009. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said his government won't extend the mandate without a consensus

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