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Afghanistan Welcomes Dutch Decision to Extend Military Mission

Afghan officials are welcoming the Netherlands' decision to keep its troops in southern Afghanistan, but the officials say the international community must do more to equip domestic forces.

Afghan Defense Ministry officials Saturday said the extension of the Dutch mission is a positive step. But they said further training of Afghan troops is necessary to ensure long-term security in Afghanistan.

The Dutch government announced Friday it will extend the mandate of its troops until 2010. The soldiers serve as part of a NATO force.

Around 1,700 Dutch troops have been deployed in the southern Uruzgan province, where NATO and U.S.-led forces are fighting fierce battles against Taliban militants.

A renewed Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has turned this year into the deadliest yet since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.