The Dutch government has won the support of a narrow majority of politicians for its proposal to send troops and police to northern Afghanistan to train police recruits.
The proposal for the 545-strong training mission is now likely to go ahead within weeks, in a victory for prime minister Mark Rutte, whose two-party conservative coalition is in the minority in Parliament.
Mr Rutte explained his decision to send the mission by saying the international community “made a promise to the Afghan population for peace and stability … and I think it is unbelievably important that the Netherlands keeps playing a role in that”.
In a key concession to win over reluctant opposition politicians, the government said it would increase training from six to 18 weeks for Afghan police recruits in Kunduz province.
Cadets also will learn about “human rights, women’s and children’s rights and integrity”, in addition to regular weapons training, the government said. Those who are illiterate will learn to read and write.
In a six-page letter explaining the three-year mission, Mr Rutte’s administration said “the Dutch approach to training will rise above” police training courses currently run by Nato in Afghanistan.
The government also will seek a commitment from Afghan authorities that Dutch-trained police will not be used for military missions.