UN asks Netherlands to send troops to Kabul
The Netherlands has been asked to send around 1,200 troops to bolster the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan.india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 19:45 IST
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan turned up the heat on The Netherlands on Monday, warning of dire consequences if it failed to send around 1,200 troops to bolster the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan.
"No one can afford to see a destabilised Afghanistan," Annan said after a brief, unscheduled meeting Monday with Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenende.
If The Netherlands refuse, it "would mean that the international efforts in Afghanistan, after all the investment we have put in, may not be successful," Annan added.
The Dutch parliament is scheduled to vote on the deployment on February 2.
At the same occasion, NATO Commander James Jones of the United States, along with the defence and foreign ministers of Afghanistan, met privately with the Dutch deputies to make the case for contributing troops to the 10,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Their efforts came on the eve of the London Conference on Afghanistan jointly chaired by Annan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Nearly 70 countries contributing to the security and reconstruction of Afghanistan will negotiate future commitments at the conference.
The United States has so far shouldered the greatest burden, disbursing some five billion dollars since toppling the Taliban regime in 2001.
"They think they are paying too much for Afghanistan compared to the others, and that the cost of the war against terrorism, a global threat, should be shared," noted a World Bank official.
The Dutch government supports the deployment of its troops to Afghanistan, but has encountered stiff resistance in public opinion and in parliament, where safety concerns have been expressed. The Government's junior coalition partner, the D66 party, has in particular stated its firm opposition.
If deployed, the Dutch contingent would be stationed in the southern province of Uruzgan, one of the least secure and most violent areas in Afghanistan.