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Afghanistan review decisions announced

Hon John Key
Prime Minister
10 August 2009 Media Statement

Afghanistan review decisions announced

Prime Minister John Key today announced decisions by Cabinet that stem from a review of New Zealand’s commitment to maintain security and stability in Afghanistan.

“New Zealand has a direct and vital interest in supporting international efforts to eradicate terrorism, and promote peace and stability. Recent events in Jakarta show that New Zealanders are not immune,” says Mr Key.

“The main findings of the review include a need for an improved whole-of-government framework for the next stage of engagement in Afghanistan.”

The Cabinet’s main decisions are:

• The Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan province will be gradually drawn down over the medium term, and there will be an increased civilian effort focused on the province in the areas of agriculture, health and education.

• Around 70 SAS personnel will be deployed in Afghanistan for up to 18 months, in three rotations.

“In keeping with long-standing practice, I will be making no comment on the operational aspects of the SAS deployment.

“This deployment follows the decisions by the previous Labour government to deploy the SAS to Afghanistan on three separate occasions.

“It is proposed that the efforts in Bamyan province be aligned with the new policv of the Obama Administration, which includes building the capacity of the Afghanistan central government and provincial governments.

“The re-alignment of the PRT’s work will include helping build the capacity of the Afghan National Police, to facilitate an accelerated transfer of the lead security role in Bamyan to the police and a phased reduction in NZDF personnel over time.

“The realignment will include a greater emphasis on development assistance and promoting good governance.

“The development assistance will focus on agriculture, health and education. To this end, it is proposed that a development adviser be attached to the PRT.

“To support the work, the Government also plans to appoint a senior diplomatic representative in the country instead of having diplomatic representation run from Tehran.”

ENDS

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