Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat-With NATO about to expand its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, its Secretary General revealed that troops will be independent from existing US forces and would respected human rights.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s remarks came as he sought to reassure the Dutch government and public in the wake of a national debate on whether additional troops should be deployed in the volatile south to reinforce the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Intelligence services in The Netherlands had expressed misgivings about the planned deployment of 1000 Dutch troops in southern Afghanistan amid continuing violence.
With the Dutch foreign ministry and the ministry of Defense in disagreement over the proposed troop increase, an agreement on the issue has yet to be reached.
Scheffer was reported in the Dutch media as saying the country’s armed forces will operate independently of US troops in the southern Afghanistan but the two would cooperate.
He stressed that the alliance will only hand over prisoners to the Afghan authorities, after informing the Red Cross and not to US troops.
NATO has been in charge of ISAF since 2003 and has gradually expanded the force out of Kabul into the north and west of the country.
Earlier, a German NATO official, General Gerhard Back was quoted in the Dutch media as saying that the US was working and planning to hand over responsibility for security matters in Afghanistan to the alliance to enable it to begin withdrawing its troops, currently numbering 17,6000, located mostly in the south and east of the country.