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They are free ! The 3 Dutch soldiers soon at home

Credit: Greek news agency ANA

The three Dutch soldiers set foot in Greece this morning. And will be in Eindhoven in the Netherlands quickly, according to the latest information from the Dutch Ministry of Defense and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Greek C130 landed this morning, around 6 a.m. local at Athens airport, a little late than the planned time (2:30 a.m.) due to last minute negotiations.

On board, the Dutch crew, the Tromp helicopter, arrested near Sirte, on Libyan soil by the Libyan security forces, on February 27, during an exfiltration operation of two European nationals (Dutch and Swedish). The C130 also repatriated several Greek nationals who requested to be evacuated. The Greek Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dimitris Dollis, as well as the Dutch negotiator, Ed Kronenburg, were also on the trip. The Lynx helicopter, however, remains in Libyan hands, as confirmed by one of Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam.

NB: Kronenburg is an old hand in military and European affairs since he was deputy director of the cabinet of Hans Van Den Broek, the European Commissioner for External Relations from 1993 to 1999 (at the height of the Yugoslav wars) and, from 2004, the director of the private office of NATO Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer).

This removes a serious thorn from the side of the Dutch government and diplomacy, which since the beginning of the Libyan crisis has displayed unusual caution, whether at the political or military level. It remains to be seen what was negotiated in exchange.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).