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Dutch Become 1st NATO Member to Pull Out of Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Netherlands has become the first NATO country to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

Nearly 1,900 Dutch troops ended their four-year combat mission today.

Their departure isn't expected to affect conditions on the ground, but it's politically significant. It comes at a time of rising casualties and growing doubts about the war in NATO capitals.

The Dutch involvement in Afghanistan was deeply unpopular at home and even brought down a government.

Canada has announced it will withdraw its 2,700 troops in 2011 and Poland plans to pull out its 2,600 soldiers the year after.

That is likely to put pressure on other European governments such as Germany and Britain to scale back their forces, adding to the burden shouldered by the United States.

The U.S. expects to have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of next month.


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