Belgian troops to stay in Afghanistan longer

Belgium is to keep its troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2011. Our country had originally planned to withdraw its troops at the end of this year, but the mission will now extended for one year, key ministers decided this morning.

Belgium has responded positively to a request sent by American president Barack Obama. 

For the moment, Belgium has 600 soldiers in Afghanistan. They are located in the capital Kabul, in Kunduz (north) and Kandahar (southern Afghanistan). Their task is to guard the international airport and to train Afghan security forces.

Key ministers also decided that Belgium will help in training Afghan police. The budget for development aid will also be raised to 13 million euros per year.

Belgium will also open a proper embassy in Kabul. Until now, our country only had an office (small photo: Belgian Defence minister Pieter De Crem).