Defence Minister to lead parliamentary delegation
Defence Minister Mark Burton has announced he will lead a
parliamentary delegation to East Timor at the beginning of
"The delegation will meet with New Zealand troops, will be briefed on the current operations and on the transition to a United Nations-led force. Meetings are also being arranged with Timorese leaders.
"This is a valuable opportunity for Parliament to demonstrate its cross-party support for New Zealand's presence in East Timor and the outstanding peacekeeping role being performed by our troops.
"I wanted to provide an opportunity for this non-partisan expression of support and I am pleased that every party has nominated a representative for the delegation."
The Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Carey Adamson and the Secretary of Defence Graham Fortune will accompany Mr Burton's delegation. It will travel on a scheduled RNZAF Boeing 727-supply flight. The aircraft will also be carrying a number of NZDF personnel and freight. The flight will leave Wellington on Tuesday 1st February and will travel to Dili after a stopover in Darwin.
"A full day will be spent in Suai where many of the New Zealand troops are based. It will be a chance to meet some of our men and women on the ground and express the appreciation and pride that all New Zealanders have for them."
Mark Burton said he is ensuring maximum value from the trip by making use of a stop in Brisbane on the return journey.
"Following on from the constructive meeting of our respective foreign ministers earlier this week, I will meet with the Australian Minister of Defence John Moore.
"New Zealand and Australia have cooperated with great success in East Timor in the spirit of the ANZAC tradition. I am confident we will continue to have a positive and fruitful defence relationship with our closest neighbour," Mr Burton said.