Dutch government falls over Afghanistan mission

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, February 20, 2010
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The Dutch government coalition collapsed early Saturday over a NATO request to extend the country's military mission to Afghanistan, Radio Nethelands Worldwide reported.

In a statement announcing his cabinet's fall´╝îPrime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he would visit Queen Beatrice later in the day to offer the resignation of the Labour Party members of his government.

"As chairman of this government, I was forced to establish there is no fruitful road for this cabinet to continue," said Mr. Balkenende after a 16-hour marathon meeting failed to save the three-party coalition.

The stand-off came after Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, leader of the Labour Party, drew a line in the sand over extending the Dutch mission in the southern Afghan province of Uruzghan.

He added that remarks by Labour, demanding a rejection of NATO's request to remain active in the Afghan province of Uruzghan, "placed a political mortgage" on the coalition's cooperation and blocked a well-balanced debate about the extension of the mission in the Asian country.

The leading coalition party, Balkenende's Christian Democrats, supported extending the military mission, which is due to end in August.

The current government was Balkenende's fourth cabinet. It was also the fourth time he failed to carry a coalition to the end of the full four-year term.

During three years of government, many decisions were made only after long disagreement inside the cabinet.

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