BRUSSELS, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States is "perplexed" by Dutch hesitation over sending more troops to Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official said in an interview published on Tuesday.
U.S. Under-Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that he does not understand why the Netherlands could not commit itself to sending another 1,200 troops to southern Afghanistan as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s expansion to the south of the country.
"I feel that NATO does good things. I believe that the U.S. and the EU (European Union) do good things in the world. I am therefore perplexed by the debate in the Netherlands," he said.
This is the first time that a U.S. government official has made clear that Washington is getting impatient with the Dutch attitude toward the Afghanistan mission.
Dutch politicians have been putting off a final decision for weeks on whether to send troops to southern Afghanistan. The coalition government, with the exception of junior partner Democraten 66 (D66), supports the mission but is reluctant to take part without the backing of parliament.
Many legislators in the 150-seat chamber are worried that the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan is too dangerous a place to send Dutch troops.
Fried did not comment on whether America will punish the Netherlands. "All I can say about the Dutch position is this: anyone who believes in strong multilateral bodies must also support those bodies and ensure that they function," he said.
Fried said the south of Afghanistan is not "as bad as it is being portrayed in this overheated debate." "Of course there are risks, there are risks everywhere," he said.
NATO commanders have been concerned that the Dutch hesitation could delay the expansion and cause doubts among European allies as the alliance prepares to beef up its peacekeeping mission from 9, 000 to 15,000. Enditem