Dutch FM, Defense Min visit troops in Afghanistan

Afghanistan,Tarin Kowt.Schietoefening van de patserhouwitser op kamp Holland.
A Dutch Panzerhaubitze 2000 fires a round in Afghanistan. February 28, 2009. (Ministry of Defense)A Dutch Panzerhaubitze 2000 fires a round in Afghanistan. February 28, 2009. (Ministry of Defense)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders, and the head of the Defence Ministry Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert are visiting Dutch troops stationed in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, according to the cabinet.

About one hundred Dutch soldiers participate there in the Resolute Support Mission, the continuation of the International Security Assistance Force mission which ended formally in 2014. Hennis and Koenders were shown the training facilities shared by the Dutch forces and the Afghan police at Camp Shaheen. The ministers also visited the location where the troops are stationed.

Hennis suggested that even though the broader focus now is on combatting ISIS, the mission of the Dutch military in Afghanistan is more focused on the restoration of the rule of law. She emphasized the importance of presence of structured military and police forces in the region to accomplish this goal.

She also stated that Afghanistan should not be a safe haven for terrorists.

"Afghanistan remains of strategic importance for the Netherlands," Koenders said. "Our people are doing important work in close collaboration with the Germans," he pointed out, but emphasizing that ultimately the responsibility for Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people.

The Netherlands are one of 28 countries that continue contributing to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.