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Dutch troops to leave Afghanistan from July 2010: minister

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Wed Dec 19, 1:41 AM ET

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands announced that Dutch troops would leave Afghanistan from July 2010, though it remained uncertain whether other nations would send enough soldiers to replace them.

“I do not have assurances that other countries will be ready to replace Netherlands troops, but I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010,” Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen told journalists.

“I indicated that in writing … to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it.

The Netherlands government decided last month to prolong its Afghanistan deployment by two years to December 2010 and the parliament approved the measure late on Tuesday.

Dutch troops are stationed in the southern province of Uruzgan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Some 1,600 Dutch soldiers have been stationed in Uruzgan since July 2006. The mission, which was initially set to end after two years, is set to be reduced to between 1,100 and 1,200 soldiers in that region, with 250 troops in Kabul and Kandahar.

“The power struggles involving interior politics will not have changed in three years … so we will leave responsibility for the situation to NATO,” the minister said.

The Netherlands had hoped to receive reinforcements from other NATO countries to allow it to further reduce the number of troops in its deployment. The country has lost 12 soldiers since deploying as part of the ISAF mission.

France, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have promised to provide troops to make up for the difference, but the “reinforcements are much less than hoped”, said Verhagen.

He added that discussions with other countries were continuing.

A resurgence in attacks by the former Islamist rulers, the Taliban, has seen Western countries urging each other to commit more troops to war-torn Afghanistan.

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Written by afghandevnews

December 19, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Security

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