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Dutch Legislature Opens Afghan Troop Debate

30 January 2006 -- The Dutch parliament has begun a daylong session on a plan to send additional troops to troubled southern Afghanistan.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who is attending the hearings, appealed to the Netherlands for continued military support.

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said he could not guarantee that the Dutch would not suffer losses, but was confident of their military capabilities.

NATO's top commander in Europe, U.S. General James L. Jones, is due to outline the support the Dutch troops would face in the event of serious conflict in the Oruzgan Province, where they are scheduled to be deployed from June.

Up to 1,400 Dutch troops are scheduled to be part of an extended mission by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to southern Afghanistan.

The Dutch lower house will formally debate the mission on 2 February.

(dpa, AP)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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