Dutch PM: Troops To Leave Afghanistan This Year

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said Dutch troops are likely to leave Afghanistan this year.

He was speaking a day after his government collapsed when a coalition partner insisted the Dutch troops leave in August as planned.

Balkenende had wanted to accept a NATO appeal for the 1,600 troops to stay on for another year, at least to train Afghan army and police.

Asked about the deployment on Dutch television, Balkenende said his caretaker government is not empowered to take controversial decisions such as agreeing to an extension in Afghanistan.

In a lengthy debate in parliament before the government fell, most of the 150-member house was in favor of pulling out of Afghanistan.

compiled from agency reports

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