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NZ to extend NZDF presence in East Timor

3 June 2001 Media Statement

New Zealand to extend NZDF presence in East Timor


The Government is offering to maintain a significant military presence in East Timor until November 2002, the Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today.

"The NZDF battalion-strength deployment in East Timor was scheduled to end in late May 2002," Mark Burton said.

"It is now clear that a United Nations peacekeeping force will probably be required in East Timor beyond that date.

"We have always indicated that New Zealand's presence would be kept under constant review. The pace of developing the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF), continuing militia activity and the political process surrounding the election and independence are critical determinants.

"I asked my defence officials to re-examine the feasibility of extending our battalion-strength presence in East Timor. The Chief of Defence Force has now confirmed that the NZDF could conduct a further rotation, covering the period from May 2002 to November 2002.

"The government has decided to provide this offer of further support to the United Nations effort. This will involve a battalion – NZBatt6 - and the continuing presence of Iroquois helicopters from RNZAF 3 Squadron.

"New Zealand's willingness to extend our significant presence in East Timor reinforces our reputation as a valued contributor to multilateral peacebuilding and regional security," Mark Burton said.

ENDS

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