US seeks to reverse Dutch doubts on Afghan mission
THE HAGUE, Nov 30 (Reuters) - U.S. officials held talks with the Dutch government on Wednesday to try to persuade the Netherlands to send more troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO plan to expand peacekeeping despite increasing violence. Daniel Fried, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, and Peter Flory, assistant secretary of defence for international security policy, met Foreign Minister Bernard Bot and other officials ahead of a possible cabinet decision on the plan on Friday. Asked about Dutch requests for U.S. guarantees of support for the expansion of the NATO-led ISAF mission, Flory said: "I can't imagine a situation where an attack on forces in the south would overwhelm the capabilities of the forces of ISAF."
The talks come amid mounting Dutch concerns about the plans to send 1,100 extra troops to the more dangerous south of Afghanistan along with forces from Britain and Canada, allowing the U.S.-led coalition to cut the size of its operation there. Some 600 Dutch troops are already serving in Afghanistan. The majority of Dutch politicians and voters are not in favor of expanding their support. Polls show that the present center-right government of the Netherlands has not more than 30% support of the Dutch voters. Sending more troops to Afghanistan will certainly mean the kiss of death for the political future of the Dutch Balkenende Government. Politicians in the Netherlands, like everywhere in Europe, are also concerned by the reports of CIA infiltrations and torture on European soil.