Dutch government to send more troops to Afghanistan

The Dutch Cabinet was likely to approve the deployment of more than 1,100 soldiers to southern Afghanistan when it meets Friday to review an agreement reached this week with NATO. NATO foreign ministers approved plans on Thursday to send up to 6,000 troops to Afghanistan, expanding the alliance's peacekeeping mission into some of the most dangerous parts of the country.

The Dutch had hesitated to contribute to the expanded force after receiving a military intelligence assessment last month warning of potentially high casualties.

Foreign minister Ben Bot said in Brussels he could now recommend the mission to his Cabinet colleagues after seeing the security arrangements for the troops.

He also said he was "very satisfied" with assurances by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Afghan government that any prisoners turned over to the Afghan authorities would not face the death penalty or torture.

"Given the assurances she has given that United States will act in conformity with its own constitution and its own laws and it will also act in accordance with international agreements, I think that we have gotten guarantees and all the satisfactory answers we can hope for," Bot said. If the Cabinet approves the deployment, the plan would go to parliament for discussion, reports the AP. I.L.

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