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Thursday 24 April  

Assange: Wikileaks timing "no coincidence"

Published on 15 January 2011 - 10:20pm
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It is "no coincidence" that Wikileaks have given a Dutch television station access to cables from the US embassy in The Hague while Dutch MPs consider whether or not to back a police training mission to Afghanistan.

In an interview with the NOS, Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange said he believes the Netherlands should make an informed choice about participation in the NATO police training mission.

"MPs are about to vote in parliament and if there is relevant material, it has to come out before they do."

The Dutch government wants to send 545 police trainers to the northern city of Kunduz to participate in a NATO training mission. The trainers will be protected by German troops and four Dutch F16 fighter planes. The minority VVD-Christian Democrat government needs parliamentary support from the opposition parties to back the mission, as it cannot rely on its usual support from the Freedom Party.

Uruzgan mission
Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad and commercial television station RTL have also published diplomatic cables sent to Washington from the US embassy in the Netherlands. The two media organisations were given access to the documents via Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The documents reveal that the US embassy closely followed the debate about whether or not to extend the previous Dutch Afghan mission in Uruzgan which ended in August 2010.

Fall of government
So far the cables have not revealed anything shocking. On Friday, it emerged that Queen Beatrix told US ambassador Fay Hartog in 2009 that it would be "difficult to extend the mission, but it had to happen".

It also emerged that then deputy prime minister and Labour leader Wouter Bos was under considerable pressure to give up his opposition to extending the mission.

In February last year, a row over this issue led to the fall of the Dutch Christian Democrat-Labour-Christian Union coalition government.
 

(nc)

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