|Government split after Dutch request for troops|
| [30.08.2007, 11:25pm, Thu. GMT]|
|In a move likely to split Norway’s centre-left coalition, the government is considering sending troops to the turbulent Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. Responding to a Dutch cry for help, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today that the government is considering sending troops to help the struggling NATO mission in southern Afghanistan. Norwegian troops are already based in the northern part of the war-torn South Asian country, but the government has several times declined similiar requests from Canada of moving Norwegian troops to the more turbulent south. The issue is known to split Norway’s centre-left coalition government.While the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) is willing to move troops further south, the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) principally objects to a Norwegian presence in southern Afghanistan. |
Parliamentary Secretary Espen Barth Eide (Labour) of the Ministry of Defence confirmed to newspaper Dagsavisen that there were bilateral talks at a government level between Norway and close NATO partner The Netherlands. The latter is already present in the Uruzgan province.
"The Norwegian government has never principally decided not to send troops to southern Afghanistan," Barth Eide said.
Spokesperson on military affairs in the Socialist Left Party, is, however, of a different opinion. Bjørn Jacobsen said that his party still views the war in southern Afghanistand as part of an Ameican pre-emptive attack on the country, and that Norway’s role should therefore be limited to the north, focusing on taking on a more humanitarian role.