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Goff calls for more help for Afghanistan

Goff calls for more help for Afghanistan

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff is urging other countries to contribute to the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that are helping to rebuild shattered communities throughout Afghanistan.

Speaking at the high-level International Conference on Afghanistan in Berlin today, Mr Goff outlined the good progress being made by the New Zealand PRT in Bamian.

He said the success of the team's work had encouraged the government to extend the mission for another year, until September 2005.

"New Zealand is contributing more than NZ$80 million in military and development support to Afghanistan, a significant sum for a small country of four million people, thousands of kilometres from Afghanistan," Mr Goff said.

"The need to strengthen the authority of the Afghan Transitional Authority into the provinces, and to promote stability and development throughout Afghanistan prompted New Zealand to take over command of the PRT in Bamian in September 2003. We were the third country to make such a commitment.

"The PRT represents a sizable commitment for New Zealand, costing over NZ$51 million. PRTs are an effective means to promote security and facilitate development throughout the regions, and we encourage other countries to contribute to them.

"Our PRT will continue to provide support for the voter registration process and the forthcoming elections, and for the implementation of the United Nations Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme in Bamian.

"To assist in reconstruction and humanitarian aid, New Zealand has contributed NZ$4.6 million in the areas of education, drug management, demining and water supply purification.

"A further $5 million has now been allocated, with a priority focus on Bamian. Among other things, this will assist in the reconstruction of Bamian University and promotion of agricultural and education studies and education for women. "In the aftermath of September 11 2001, we deployed New Zealand´s Special Air Services troops for 12 months, and from today they have been deployed again for a further period of six months. They will make an important contribution to the maintenance of stability in the critical period between now and the planned elections.

"In addition to our support for Operation Enduring Freedom, New Zealand has also contributed personnel to the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force peacekeeping operation.

"So that Afghanistan can ultimately take responsibility for its own security and law and order, New Zealand has also contributed to training the ANA. We are now considering support for training of a professional police force in Bamian.

"We are making this effort because we acknowledge the effort that Afghan people themselves are making to rebuild their nation. The adoption of a new constitution by the Loya Jirga last December was a significant step in the transition to democratic rule.

"The holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in September will mark further progress along this road.

The implementation of social, political and economic strategies on human rights, health and education, justice and police, counter-narcotics, transport and natural resources are all necessary elements for the development of a successful democracy.

"New Zealand today commits itself to continuing to work with the Afghan authorities and other nations to secure these goals for the benefit of the well-being of the Afghan people and the world community generally," Mr Goff said.

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