News of: Saturday, February 20 2010,

Dutch government falls over NATO mission in Afghanistan

The Dutch government has fallen. The reason was the coalition parties could no longer agree about the participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The Netherlands have a military presence in the province Uruzgan in Afghanistan. The Social Democrats, on of the coalition partners in the government, had already decided it wanted to withdraw the Dutch troops.

The Christian Democrats, however, felt the Dutch troops had to stay longer.

The Dutch troops will now be withdrawn before the end of 2010.

After the NATO had sent an official request to the Netherlands to keep sending troops to Afghanistan, the coalition partners in the Dutch government could not reach agreement about a reaction to it.

Saying no to a NATO request is very unusual. Normally, it is made certain that a NATO member will agree, before a request is sent. It is is said that the Dutch move may harm relations with the United States and other NATO members.

The government was the fourth in a row under the leadership of Prime Minister Balkenende. It lived for almost 3 years, and is the fourth government in a row that did not complete its full term of 4 years.

New elections will be held within about 3 months.