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Constructive engagement the right way to go

Dunne: constructive engagement the right way to go

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, today applauded the New Zealand Government's commitment of more military personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Dunne, who also chairs Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee, said, "New Zealanders have agonized a great deal over the proper role to play in the world's trouble spots, but there can be no doubt that we have been doing the right thing, first by sending SAS troops into Afghanistan to help remove the barbaric Taleban regime, and now by providing constructive support in the form of up to 100 military/civilian personnel in a provincial reconstruction team - near to Kabul to help extend its authority into other regions.

"Along with the provision of two NCO's to help with Afghan Army training, this commitment is a form of assistance where New Zealand's strength and experience at nation-building can come to the fore.

"I want to acknowledge as well the contribution being made by our military services. Afghanistan is by no means a safe place, as recent killings and bombings have made plain. I'm sure all New Zealanders will back our armed forces as they carry out this dangerous task on our behalf.

"That same principle of constructive engagement can be seen in the decision to commit 60 military engineers/support staff into southern Iraq for 12 months attached to Britain's armed forces in the region.

"As our forces showed in East Timor, we have skills and expertise at national reconstruction that allow us to play a full and valuable role alongside our long-term allies."

Mr Dunne said he was also pleased to see that a promise of prison management expertise had been made conditional on no support for the feudal sharia law system and the absence of any death penalty.

"New Zealand's overall foreign policy goals include support for free and democratic nations that do not arbitrarily trample all over their citizens' human rights and United Future firmly supports the Government in the actions announced today," he said.

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