Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 02:24 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 02:24 | SYDNEY

Going Dutch on our Kabul embassy?


Fergus Hanson


21 January 2009 16:27

The Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, has been in Australia for the last few days. Both countries have been partnering in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan — and work closely on any number of other issues. According to this report, Verhagen again reiterated the Dutch plan to draw down their troop numbers next year and that the Netherlands was looking for another country to take over their lead role. 

Australia has already rejected that idea and it could be expected that pressure will rain down on the Dutch to stick it out for a little longer, especially as President Obama turns his sights on the fight in Afghanistan. Stephen Smith's press release also emphasised that Afghanistan would form the major focus of discussions.

One issue not mentioned in either document however, is that of co-locating our Embassy with the Dutch in Kabul. The decision to co-locate was announced way back in April 2006, but there hasn't been much good news since. In January 2008, our Embassy in Kabul was still operating out of the Serena Hotel, which was caught up in a Taliban attack. A year later and we still aren't bunkered down with our Dutch allies and it would seem the prospects of that happening aren't great. Co-locating with the Dutch would have been a nice symbolic nod to our strong bilateral relationship. What went wrong?