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Government Deepens Commitment To Peacekeeping

Hon Max Bradford
Minister of Defence

MEDIA RELEASE

30 June 1999


GOVERNMENT DEEPENS COMMITMENT TO PEACEKEEPING


The Minister of Defence, Hon Max Bradford, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rt Hon Don McKinnon today announced the Government had offered four military observers to the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.

The officers have been put on standby and will leave as soon as the UN requires them.

The announcement was the latest in a wide range of New Zealand commitments to international peacekeeping.

These include:

n The upcoming deployment of the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha to join United Nations sanctions monitoring forces in the Gulf in October.
n The decision to continue having military personnel on stand-by for the UN weapons inspection monitoring effort in Iraq.
n The continued deployment of technical advisers with the Laos Unexploded Ordnance programme.
n The continued deployment of 30 peace monitoring staff in Bougainville until the end of this year.

The Navy's newest frigate HMNZS Te Kaha sailed on Monday to participate in a variety of regional exercises from July to September.

It will then join the Multinational Interception Force in the Gulf in October and November to police UN sanctions.

Mr Bradford said the first operational deployment of Te Kaha to monitor Iraq's obligations to destroy its weapons of mass destruction visibly demonstrated New Zealand's commitment to the rule of international law.


"At the same time we have signalled to the UN our willingness to continue to support the United Nations Special Commission on disarming Iraq, UNSCOM.

"We have three personnel in New York and 11 personnel in NZ on standby to return to duties in Iraq if required.

"In addition, four military observers had been offered to UN forces in Kosovo to help refugees return and to assist the transition back to a peaceful society," Mr Bradford said.

"We also have a small, but very important deployment in Laos, where we have two technical advisers to the headquarters of the Laos Unexploded Ordinance Programme, which has responsibility for removing tons of unexploded ordnance from the 1960s & 1970s."

Mr Bradford said New Zealand's substantial and perhaps most successful peacekeeping effort, in Bougainville, has been proceeding well.

"We intend to keep our 30 peace monitors on the island and to fund the Pacific Island country monitors (26 at present) at least until the end of this year," Mr Bradford said.

"Opposition parties would wrongly have New Zealanders believe that our Defence Force doesn't perform enough peacekeeping. The announcements of this month alone clearly prove them wrong," he said.

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