No immediate Danish exit plan for Afghanistan

danish-flagA government decision for Danish troops to remain in Afghanistan this year has been accepted by opposition parties on the condition that a more precise withdrawal plan is provided in 2011.

Although no dates have been agreed on, Politiken reports that parliamentary parties are moving closer to a agreeing on a course of action in Afghanistan.

The Social Liberal and Social Democrat parties have accepted the latest government amendment to the Helmand plan, which proposes a strategy for the removal of the 750 Danish troops predominantly stationed in the Helmand province of South Afghanistan.

Previously, the opposition had demanded an identifiable time frame for an Afghan exit-strategy, along with a guarantee that Danish troops would not be allowed to continue to fight unaided in Helmand.

Foreign Minister Lene Espersen’s recent visit to Kabul may have placated the opposition somewhat, as Espersen returned to Denmark with news of a successful meeting with Hamid Karzai. The Afghan president promised that 400-500 local soldiers would be dispatched to support Danish forces in the region, with a plan for Afghan troops to eventually take over from their Danish counterparts.

“But there is still a need for more Afghan soldiers out there and we must push hard for it, for it can result in Danes being replaced in their role as battle troops,” claimed Social Democrat minister Mogens Lykketoft.

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