PM Rutte pays surprise visit to Dutch soldiers in Iraq
Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid an unannounced visit to Dutch soldiers in Baghdad on Tuesday. He visited several training sites, where Dutch soldiers are training Iraqi special forces as part of the Dutch contribution to the international coalition against terrorist organization Islamic State, NU.nl reports.
About 25 Dutch soldiers are giving Iraqi forces training on shooting, military first aid and how to fight in urban areas.
"Defeating ISIS in itself is a big goal, but of course you want to do so in a manner in which there is as much peace as possible afterwards. It will not immediately be Switzerland tomorrow, but there is a situation where the country can move forward", the Prime Minister said.
During his visit, Rutte also met with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi, stressing the importance of a reconciliation process between the Iraqi people and the need for political and economic reforms to ensure a stable Iraq. He also spoke with Iraqi youth about the future of heir country and met with Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator for the UN in Iraq.
The Netherlands is also training Kurdish forces in northern Iraq as part of the fight against ISIS. The Dutch soldiers do not take part in their fighting itself. Until recently Dutch F-16's performed bombardments on ISIS targets in Iraq and eastern Syria, but that task was taken over by the Belgians late in June. Some Dutch troops remained behind to protect the Belgians.