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Dutch raise suicide attack fears with Pakistan

Written by: Staff
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ISLAMABAD, May 2 (Reuters) The Netherlands asked Pakistan today to supply whatever intelligence it could to combat the threat of suicide attacks on Dutch troops being deployed in Afghanistan over the coming months.

Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said during a visit to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad that up to 1,600 extra troops were being sent on a two-year mission to Afghanistan's central Uruzgan province as part of a beefed up NATO-led peacekeeping force.

''The request I made is that, in the exchange of information, we be as open and frank as possible,'' Bot said, adding: ''We are concerned about the increase of suicide bombers because that constitutes a direct threat to our troops.'' Violence has intensified in Afghanistan in recent months, with scores of people killed in clashes, and roadside or suicide blasts as NATO members build up troop numbers.

Several NATO members have been checking with the Pakistani government over its security arrangements on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Despite having stationed around 80,000 troops on the border, Pakistan is often criticised for not doing enough to curb Taliban fighters using its territory as a base from which to attack Afghan and Western forces.

During a war of words between Islamabad and Kabul earlier this year, Afghan officials said suicide bombers were recruited and trained on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri on Tuesday proposed that U.S. and Afghan forces could fence and mine their side of the border, if they didn't like Islamabad's earlier suggestion that Pakistani troops should do the fencing and mining.

''If the Afghans do not want that, let the Americans and the Afghans mine it on their side, fence it on their side. Let there be no excuses,'' Kasuri said.

REUTERS CH RN1809

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