Afghanistan: Premier sends Obama wrong message

19 December 2008

Afghanistan: Premier sends Obama wrong message

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has asked Premier Jan-Peter Balkenende for an explanation of his statements during a recent television interview to the effect that he has received ‘calls’ from advisors to US President-elect Obama who are said to have asked him whether the Netherlands would be willing to prolong its military presence in Afghanistan beyond the currently agreed date of August 2010. Balkenende promised in response that the matter would be considered anew. “With this promise Balkenende has sent a message which is completely wrong,” says Van Bommel. “He is promising to reconsider the original resolve to withdraw before the end of 2010.”

What is far from clear is what the US is asking for and just who is asking. “Perhaps it was the current Defence Secretary who was doing the asking. He will continue in post under President Obama. You could I suppose call him an advisor, but in reality he is one of the leading architects of America’s war in Afghanistan,” Van Bommel points out. “Last year an agreement was laid down in black and white between NATO and the Netherlands that we would terminate our presence in August 2010. We must stick to this. Dutch troops must be brought home, all of them.”

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