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Greens support Clark on withdrawal from Kuwait

19 March 2001

Greens support Clark on withdrawal from Kuwaiti task force

The Green Party today welcomed Helen Clark's decision not to send another Kiwi soldier to participate in the US-led task force in Kuwait.

"The Greens are pleased that no more New Zealand soldiers will be put at risk in the Gulf," said Green Party Defence Spokesperson Keith Locke.

Mr Locke said continued participation in the task force would have been inconsistent with the withdrawal of New Zealand frigates from America's interception force in the Gulf.

"New Zealand has criticised the US-promoted sanctions against the people of Iraq for killing far too many innocent people," said Mr Locke. "Maintaining a military presence in the Gulf under the leadership of the United States would have made New Zealand's criticism of these sanctions hypocritical."

Mr Locke said the Kuwait task force has been involved in launching attacks on Iraq that have been roundly condemned by the world community. Last month, when US and British planes bombed targets near Bagdad, only two nations, Australia and Israel, came out in support.

The F-18 Hornet which accidentally bombed Major McNutt was the same type of plane, from the same aircraft carrier, as the planes that bombed near Bagdad last month.

"It's shocking that Helen Clark hadn't been told of the presence of a Kiwi in this Kuwait task force. It shouldn't have taken 15 months of the new government for this to come to light. The Defence Force will have to be much more forthcoming in disclosing assignments which don't fit the more independent defence stance of the Labour government," said Mr Locke.

"The death of Major McNutt was a real tragedy and we are pleased that no other New Zealand families will have to go through losing a loved one in the Gulf," said Mr Locke.

ENDS



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