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NATO names Dutch diplomat as top Afghan envoy

Written by: Staff
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BRUSSELS, June 29 (Reuters) NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer named Dutch diplomat Daan Everts as the alliance's top civilian envoy to Afghanistan today, a key post as NATO readies to take over peacekeeping in the restive south.

Everts, Dutch ambassador to Vienna-based rights watchdog, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will take over from Turkish diplomat Hikmet Cetin in August, a NATO official said.

He will be responsible for NATO's relations with the Afghan government and other groups acting in the country such as the United Nations and the Group of Eight major powers.

NATO will nearly double its peacekeeping force in Afghanistan to around 17,000 and take over from the U.S.-led coalition in the south from the end of July, pitching it up against Taliban insurgents in their traditional heartland.

The expansion is being led by Britain, Canada and the Netherlands, which will contribute around 1,400 to the 6,000 NATO troops going into the south.

NATO took over the ISAF peace force in 2003, two years after a US-led invasion to oust its Taliban rulers, and has gradually expanded from the capital Kabul, to the north and west. It plans to cover the whole country by the year-end.

De Hoop Scheffer insisted this month that military force alone was not enough to beat a stubborn insurgency, calling on international donors to do more to rebuild the country and the Afghan government to work to stamp out corruption.

REUTERS CH KP1910

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