Monday, April 20, 2009

Crown prince Willem-Alexander in Afghanistan

HRH Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands paid a secret visit to the Dutch troops stationed in the Afghan province of Uruzgan last week. The Prince, who was accompanied by Major General Peter van Uhm, commander of the Dutch armed forces, was on his third visit to Afghanistan, where he met civilians and aid workers as well as soldiers.

In a speech, the Crown Prince heaped praise on the heads of the Dutch soldiers: „What you have achieved is unbelievable, impressive. On behalf of all Dutch people, I say that I am proud of what you are doing and of your willingness to make great sacrifices.“ During his visit, the Prince of Orange repeatedly mingled with the Dutch soldiers. He ate his meals with them and slept on thin mattresses in steal bunk beds.

„Of course there are frustrations among those who came here with positive expectations and feel that change is taking too long,“ the Prince wrote in his online diary. „But despite all this, I still have a sense of hope for a lasting peace and development, primarily because of the conversations and experiences of all these brave men and women who I've had the honour to meet here. They believe in their mission, and so do I.“

In an exclusive interview with AD newspaper, Prince Willem-Alexander said: „The Netherlands is forever inextricably bound up with Uruzgan. We will always continue to follow this province. It is a beautiful land with an extraordinary, old history.“

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