Dutch rule out large Afghan troops beyond 2010
Dutch official said the three coalition government parties agreed in their 2007 coalition accord to stay in Afghanistan until the end of 2010 but no beyond it.
Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende ruled out on Friday the possibility of the Netherlands keeping its troops in Afghanistan past 2010 with a force comparable to its current deployment.
The prime minister told Dutch TV that maintaining a mission beyond 2010 with the same size would be "extraodinarily problematic", but did not rule out a smaller-sized Dutch force staying on in Afghanistan after that date.
"There will come a moment that a consideration will be made and if there are any requests then you will need to take into account the possibilities of the Dutch army," he said.
Balkenende added that no requests have been made for the Dutch military to remain in Afghanistan.
A Dutch Defence Ministry spokesman said the three coalition government parties agreed in their 2007 coalition accord to stay in Afghanistan until the end of 2010, but added that it was too early to speculate on what would happen beyond that date.
The Dutch have about 1,650 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom are in the province of Uruzgan. Smaller units are in the capital Kabul and Kandahar.
Reuters Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2009, 09:47