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Dutch cabinet not prepared to show its hand over Afghanistan

27 December 2005

Dutch cabinet not prepared to show its hand over Afghanistan

The lower house of the Dutch parliament, the Netherlands' most important legislative body, has not received a clear answer to the question it posed the government as to whether the cabinet has or has not taken a decision on the sending of military forces to the south of Afghanistan. SP Foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel, criticising the government's reticence, said: “The cabinet is obviously not prepared to take any position now that the smallest party in the coalition, D66, has come out on the same side of the argument as the SP, opposing the sending of troops.”

In a short letter to parliament, Foreign Affairs Minister Ben Bot said on Tuesday that the government, immediately following the meeting with the lower house, would be “weighing up whether to effectuate the contribution it had previously resolved to make or if a change was necessary.”

The note to parliament was sent in reply to a request from the SP, the PvdA (Labour Party) and the VVD (right-wing liberals). Clarity was called for regarding the status of any military mission. In a previous letter from the cabinet, sent to parliament on 22nd December, there was mention of a resolution to send between 1200 and 1400 troops.

Harry van BommelHarry Van Bommel is, he says “very much put out” over this course of events. “In his letter the minister gives the impression that the cabinet will be treating the matter according to the increasing practise of taking a decision immediately after meeting with parliament,” he added. “That's absolutely untrue. To date it has always been the case that the government has put a decision over the sending of troops before parliament.” Until this happens, the SP will refuse to participate in a full discussion of the cabinet's resolutions.

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