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NZ contribution to Solomon Islands to continue

NZ contribution to Solomon Islands to continue

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced New Zealand's military contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission in Solomon Islands (RAMSI) will continue for a further two years.

"Our continued military presence reflects a long-term commitment to the development of a safe and prosperous Solomon Islands," said Helen Clark.

"The military contribution to 31 July 2006 will comprise up to two, three-month rotations of a New Zealand Defence Force infantry platoon of 33 personnel, with a support contingent of up to three further personnel for each rotation."

"The platoon will be rotated around the five troop-contributing countries, of New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. New Zealand will also contribute one officer to the RAMSI headquarters for two years, till 31 July 2006."

"The decision to retain a small military presence in Solomon Islands was taken on the advice of the RAMSI Special Coordinator after close consultation with the Solomon Islands government."

"The main task of the platoon would be patrols on Malaita, the provision of a rapid response capability, and perimeter security for Rove Prison. The platoon would also be available to respond to any contingencies on the border between Bougainville and Western province," said Helen Clark.

"Solomon Islands is on the road to stability, and it is quite an achievement that RAMSI, involving New Zealand working alongside other Pacific nations, has been able to restore security."

The cost of the continued commitment is estimated at $3.2 million over three years. In addition, New Zealand is contributing around $16 million of NZAID money, largely for education. New Zealand also has 35 police officers in Solomon Islands.

New Zealand first deployed NZDF personnel as part of RAMSI in August 2003.

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