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NZDF joints multinational force protecting APEC leaders

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have arrived in Papua New Guinea to form part of a multinational force protecting world leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit this weekend.

Sue Douglas, the New Zealand Senior National Officer, said NZDF personnel were working alongside Papua New Guinea troops and police, as well as military personnel from Australia and the United States, as part of the Joint Security Task Force.

“At the request of the Papua New Guinea Government New Zealand, in coordination with Australia, is providing security support for the hosting of APEC 2018,” Ms Douglas said.

“The summit is a rare opportunity to bring world leaders to our region and, together with other APEC member nations, we want it to be a success.”

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago and its 75 crew members are working alongside the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Royal Australian Navy and the United States Coast Guard to provide maritime security.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft, backed by a 20-member detachment, will provide aerial surveillance, while up to 30 Special Operation Forces soldiers are supporting the security effort.

Major General Gilbert Toropo, the Chief of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General Paul McLachlan, the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force for support to APEC, and Colonel Ezekia Wenzel, the chief of joint operations of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, visited Otago while it conducted a security patrol in the lead-up to APEC 2018 Leaders’ Week.

“It was a privilege to host them and an excellent opportunity to show them our rapid response capabilities,” Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said.
About 15,000 delegates are expected at the summit, which is recognised as the highest-level multilateral bloc in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC, comprising 21 Pacific Rim member-economies, was established in 1989 to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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