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Peacekeepers Have Means Of Protection, Says PM


Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today that New Zealand troops on peacekeeping duties in East Timor would be fully equipped and authorised to defend themselves and those they have a duty to protect.

"I have been briefed by Defence officials and have today signed the appropriate authorisation.

"The soldiers, their families and the New Zealand public can be assured that there are robust procedures in place for our troops to protect and defend themselves while they carry out their peacekeeping role in East Timor.

"I am confident that they are well trained and prepared for their mission, and they have the appropriate equipment to meet the task.

"I want to reassure the families of our troops, and all New Zealanders, that our men and women can protect themselves. They will operate in the same way as the rest of the Australian-led United Nations peacekeeping force," Mrs Shipley said.

The Prime Minister will travel to Ohakea Air Force Base tomorrow morning to farewell the first group of 60 soldiers to join the peacekeeping force assembled in Darwin. The soldiers, from the 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, will travel by Air Force Boeing 727 and their equipment will be transported on a Hercules C130.

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