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Govt confirms NZ force in Gulf is under US control

Bill English National Party Leader

19 February 2003

Govt confirms NZ force in Gulf is under US control

The Government has now confirmed the New Zealand contingent based in the Persian Gulf is under US command.

"The National Party supports the decision to commit Kiwi forces to Operation Enduring Freedom to defeat terrorism, but believes the Government has misled the public about who's in charge of the operation," says National Party Leader Bill English.

"Helen Clark has previously stated our force in the Persian Gulf was 'Canadian-led', but Dr Michael Cullen's confirmed it is ultimately under US control in Parliament today.

"He's confirmed our frigate and air support are in fact under the control of United States Central Command based in Tampa, Florida," says Mr English.

"That's the same command that will lead any operation against Iraq to disarm it. "New Zealand forces appear to be providing support to potential action against Iraq," says Mr English.

"If nothing else, the work being done by the frigate Te Kaha will allow America to reassign some of its assets to the possible war against Iraq.

"There is one big US umbrella and our forces are under it.

"The Prime Minister has so far stressed the role of the Canadian command, but Dr Cullen failed to make any mention of it today when he confirmed US control of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"National continues to support the United States' efforts to obtain a second resolution," says Mr English.


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