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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 21, 2010

DUTCH GOVERNMENT COLLAPSES OVER AFGHANISTAN

AL JAZEERA - The Netherlands' coalition government has collapsed after the two largest parties failed to agree on whether to withdraw Dutch troops from Afghanistan later this year, as had been planned.

The cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende, the prime minister, fell apart early on Saturday following 16 hours of talks in The Hague. . . .

Balkenende's centre-right Christian Democrat CDA, the bigger partner in the coalition, had suggested keeping a reduced force in Afghanistan for a year past the August 2010 deadline.

That was met with opposition from the Labour Party of Wouter Bos, the deputy prime minister.

"A plan was agreed to when our soldiers went to Afghanistan. Our partners in the government didn't want to stick to that plan, and on the basis of their refusal we have decided to resign from this government," Bos said.

The Dutch mission, based Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, began in August 2006 and involves 1,906 troops.

Since then, 21 Dutch soldiers have been killed there.

The political collapse all but guarantees the Dutch troops will be withdrawn at the end of their mandate in August.

Janan Mosazai, a political analyst in Kabul, said a Dutch pullout would "certainly mean a setback for the so-called international coalition" and its plans of establishing a secure Afghan state.


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