Afghan president begins two-day visit to Netherlands

By Xinhua,

Brussels : Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in the Netherlands Monday for a two-day visit, during which he will discuss the situation in Afghanistan with Dutch ministers.

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On Monday, Karzai will hold talks with Dutch Prime Minister JanPeter Balkenende and other ministers about the situation in Afghanistan, Dutch media reported.

During his first visit to the Netherlands, the Afghan president will also meet Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop and Development Minister Bert Koenders, according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry.

On Tuesday he will visit the Dutch parliament and have lunch with Queen Beatrix at Huis ten Bosch Palace. In the afternoon he and Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Frank Heemskerk will jointly open a conference with Dutch and Afghan business people at the seaside town of Scheveningen.

The Netherlands has had its soldiers stationed in Afghanistan since 2002. It currently has more than 1,650 soldiers deployed in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The Uruzgan mission, which expires at the end of 2010, has been the most costly overseas mission of the Netherlands. Sixteen Dutch soldiers have been killed since the mission began in the summer of2006.