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Cablegate: Dutch Say U.S. Afghanistan Message Must Be A

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PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHNO #0501/01 3090942
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 050942Z NOV 09
FM USMISSION USNATO
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3563
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 1055
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USDELMC BRUSSELS BE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/USNMR SHAPE BE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USNATO 000501

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/4/2019
TAGS: MARR MOPS NATO PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: DUTCH SAY U.S. AFGHANISTAN MESSAGE MUST BE A
STRONG ONE

Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Ivo Daalder for Reasons 1.4(b)
& (d)

1. (C) Summary. In a November 3 meeting, Dutch PM Cabinet
Director Richard van Zwol told USNATO Ambassador Daalder the
Dutch were in a political deadlock over their Afghanistan
contributions and the Prime Minister was attempting to
unlock it. He urged the US to deliver a strong message
privately in the next few weeks to help the DUtch government
in its efforts to revise its Afghanistan policy. Van Zwol
reassured the Ambassador that media reporting on the November
2 meeting between the German and Dutch FMs that suggested the
two Allies were pursuing the issue of nuclear weapons
forward-basing bilaterally were inaccurate. Van Zwel said
Dutch FM Verhagen stressed with his German counterpart that
the debate regarding nuclear weapons on European soil had to
be conducted in the context of NATO. End Summary.

---------------------------------
Staying the Course in Afghanistan
---------------------------------

2. (C) In a frank discussion about the Dutch contribution to
the ISAF mission, the Ambassador explained to Van Zwol, Dutch
PM Foreign Policy and Defense Asvisor Karel van Oosterom, and
Dutch Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO Jan Versteeg
that the United States had not made its final decision about
resourcing issues in Afghanistan, but would stay the course
until significant progress was achieved. The Ambassador
noted that the United States wanted the Netherlands to remain
as well and would convey strong message to Dutch leaders in
that regard in the month ahead. It would be hard to explain
a Dutch withdrawal just as the US and others were stepping up
their contributions to the mission. Van Zwol said the Dutch
were in a political deadlock and the Prime Minister was
attempting to unlock it. He urged the US to deliver a
strong message privately in the next few weeks; no other type
of message would work. The US should emphasize in its
discussions with Dutch leaders that the push now will be on
progress in the next 12-18 months, with the view to
transferring responsibility to the Afghans as soon as
possible. In order to get a positive decision to stay, the
Dutch Labor Party, which is the main stumbling block in the
coalition government, would need to be able to point to a
new situation to explain any change in policy. Greater
emphasis on a transfer to Afghan lead and on moving from
combat to training would help, as might the announcement of a
new approach by the Obama administration.

3. (C) Van Zwol and Oosterom confirmed that the Dutch would
not be a lead nation under any circumstances and warned it
would be extremely difficult to remain in Uruzgan. The
Ambassador said he was hopeful that the Dutch would keep
their troop contributions in the four-digit range, leave
their enablers, and send more trainers. Pulling out of
Uruzgan, given the Dutch investment in the province and the
ISAF focus on counter-insurgency, would be a waste of the
collective wisdom and trust they had built there over th
eyears. Van Zwol suggested it was best to focus first on a
Dutch commitment to remain and then discuss where they might
deploy.

4. (C) Van Zwol also advised that, when discussing
Afghanistan with Dutch Finance Minister Bos, it would be
useful for the United States to make the issue personal for
him. Van Zwol said Bos would respond well to the idea that
remaining in Afghanistan is an issue of leadership for a
Deputy Prime Minister of a party with a proud history. Van
Zwol also suggested that Bos has future ambitions, and the
United States should point out that he should not lose
international credibility by insisting on the Dutch
withdrawal from Afghanistan at this critical moment.

------------------------
NATO and Nuclear Weapons
------------------------


USNATO 00000501 002 OF 002


5. (C) Ambassador Daalder used the meeting to ask for
clarification on Dutch FM Verhagen's November 2 meeting with
new German FM Westerwelle, and whether the Dutch were
planning a unilateral, bilateral, or trilateral (with the
Belgians) effort to remove US nuclear weapons from European
soil. Van Zwol explained that, while a nuclear free world
was a matter of personal interest to FM Verhagen, the Dutch
would address the issue of forward-basing of US nuclear
weapons in the multilateral context of NATO only. Noting
that the Germans had opened Pandora's box on the issue of
US nuclear weapons in Europe, Van Zwol assured the Ambassador
there was no Dutch/Belgian/German cabal to deal with the
issue. For the past several decades, NATO Allies had not
discussed the issue so as not to rock the boat. The new
German coalition agreement changed that, he said, by firmly
and openly calling for frank discussions on NATO's nuclear
weapons policy.
DAALDER

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