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Dutch leaders to hold talks after coalition collapse

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Dutch leaders to hold talks after coalition collapse


Political leaders in the Netherlands will hold talks on Monday as the country seeks a way out of its current internal crisis.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s ruling coalition was brought down on Saturday over a row to extend a ‘Tour of Duty’ in Afghanistan.

The decision to withdraw Dutch troops was taken two years ago and the minority Labour Party of Wouter Bos opposed any further extension.

‘‘The majority of the Dutch parliament wants to stick to that decision. The majority of the Dutch population want to stick to that decision and we thought it would be fair and honest to say so and, at the end, we could not convince our colleagues it was the right thing to do,’‘ said Labour leader Bos.

Monday’s meeting with Queen Beatrix, the Netherlands’ ceremonial Head of State, will aim to set a date for new parliamentary elections.

Balkenende’s Christian Democrats had pushed for a reduced force in Afghanistan but the government’s fall all but guarantees the 2,000 Dutch troops will be brought home this year.

The withdrawal is being seen as a major blow to NATO in its battle against the Taliban.

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