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Dutch troops to stay in Afghanistan

November 15, 2007

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KABUL, Nov 14: The Dutch defence minister said on Wednesday his country’s 1,500 soldiers would remain in Afghanistan until its own forces could mount an “independent defence,” the Afghan government said.

Minister Eimert Van Middelkoop was in Kabul ahead of a vote due shortly on extending the Dutch mission beyond the scheduled August 2008 deadline. A majority of Dutch oppose an extension, according to a poll.

“Our units will stay in Afghanistan until the Afghan army is capable of independent defence,” the Afghan defence ministry quoted Middelkoop as saying in a statement.—AFP