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Dutch parliament supports troops for Kabul

The Dutch parliament supported deployment of up to 1,400 troops to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 16:21 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The Dutch parliament overwhelmingly supported the deployment of up to 1,400 troops to southern Afghanistan, the premier said, reaffirming the country's central NATO.

No vote was held specifically to send the troops, but Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the end of a late night debate yesterday that it was clear the deployment had widespread support.

"The mission can go ahead. I will confirm that to the Cabinet tomorrow (Friday)," he said.

The proposal to send the troops to the troubled Uruzgan province had run into vocal opposition, including from one of the three parties in the governing coalition.

The turning point came when the opposition Labour Party swung behind the mission earlier this week.

"This mission has a chance to succeed. It will be hard, and there will be setbacks," Labour party leader Wouter Bos said during the final debate, signaling his party's support.

He said its concerns were allayed when NATO pledged more money for reconstruction, a security net for the Dutch troops, human rights guarantees for prisoners and independence for the Dutch in their area of operation.

Defence Minister Henk Kamp said he expected an advance team of 900 men to head to Uruzgan March 1, while the main body of troops would be deployed August 1.

"It's a dangerous mission, the most dangerous mission since Srebrenica," Kamp said after the vote.

The humiliation of Dutch troops at Srebrenica, Bosnia, 10 years ago by Bosnian Serb forces, when thousands of Muslims under Dutch protection were slaughtered, was a powerful factor in the public hesitation to commit troops again in a combat zone.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 14:45 IST