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Goff Criticises Green Stance On Terrorism

2 July 2002

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has criticised the suggestion by Keith Locke that withdrawal of the New Zealand forces from Afghanistan may be a condition for Green support for a post-election coalition.

“It further highlights the difficulty Labour would have if placed in the position of reliance for support on the Greens.

“The suggestion of New Zealand opting out of the international campaign against terrorism is not on.

“The withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan would immediately put at risk all progress which has been made in Afghanistan towards establishing a legitimate and popularly supported government and the rebuilding of that country after twenty years of war.

“Al Qaeda and Taleban forces still exist and with the pressure off them they would again actively seek to destabilise Afghanistan.

“Intelligence reports suggest they continue to pose a threat through planned renewal of terrorist attacks against civilian targets around the world.

“It is naïve in the extreme to believe that force is not necessary as one component in the campaign against terrorism. These groups operate outside the rule of law. They thought nothing of the mass murder of 3000 people on 11 September last year. They continue to threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological or nuclear, if they gain access to them.

“The mistaken bombing yesterday of civilians was a tragedy. Every effort has to be made to learn from this mistake and avoid any loss of innocent life.

“It does not however follow as Mr Locke apparently believes that withdrawal of New Zealand and international forces would save lives.

“Many more people would die if chaos were to result from a vacuum left by the departure of coalition forces.

“Mr Locke also needs to consider the appalling losses of life under the Taleban regime, where 35,000 children died in its last year from lack of inoculations against transmittable diseases, women and homosexuals were stoned to death for transgressions of Taleban moral codes, and people were executed regularly at the soccer stadium in Kabul.

“Mr Locke’s outspokenness now contrasts with his silence about these events in the past when first the Soviets and then the Taleban were committing atrocities against Afghan people,” Mr Goff said.

Ends


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