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NZDF to lead Afghan Provincial Reconstruction Team

NZDF to lead Afghan Provincial Reconstruction Team

New Zealand’s Defence Force will take leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan’s Bamian Province at a ceremony tomorrow, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today.

New Zealand will take over the command of the PRT in Bamian from the United States. The United States also leads two other PRTs in Afghanistan, Britain has established a fourth, and Germany is also considering establishing one.

The New Zealand Ambassador to Afghanistan, Niels Holm will join 50 representatives from the United States, Canada, Germany and Great Britain, for the official handover ceremony which begins at 9.30 a.m Bamian time (NZT 2 p.m.). The ceremony will include a flag ceremony. Ambassador Holm will read a message from Helen Clark.

“Since the inception of the Afghan Transitional Government, the international community has been involved in efforts to restore Afghanistan, to establish security, and rebuild society, Helen Clark said. “New Zealand places a high priority on contributing to international efforts to restore Afghanistan, establish its security and rebuild its society.

“The leadership of the Bamian PRT is a measure of our commitment to those goals. It is in the international community’s interests to assist the Afghan government.”

New Zealand Defence deployed about 100 personnel to Afghanistan in late August to form a PRT focusing on enhancing the security environment and promoting reconstruction efforts.

Commander of the New Zealand PRT, Colonel Neville Reilly, said he was very encouraged by the co-operation being shown by the local communities within Bamian.

Since being deployed, the NZDF personnel have visited communities and made contact with community leaders.

“We are still settling in and sorting out equipment and will begin our task in earnest within the next week or so, but so far everything is going well,” Colonel Reilly said.

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