New Zealand committed to NATO operations in Afghanistan

Wellington, Feb 25: New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman Tuesday pledged his country’s continued commitment to NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Defence ministers of NATO-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) states would discuss the military drawdown in Afghanistan and planning for NATO’s post-2014 training, advice and assistance mission, Xinhua quoted Coleman as saying.

“New Zealand remains committed to supporting the final stages of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. It is important to secure the gains made by the international community over the last decade,” he said.

New Zealand was also committed to supporting NATO in areas of common interest, such as international maritime security efforts, including NATO’s anti-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, in the Gulf of Aden region.

“As a trading nation, New Zealand recognises the importance of maritime security, and we are committed to contributing to the international effort to tackle piracy,” said Coleman.

New Zealand troops left Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province, where they maintained a camp and ran the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) for 10 years, in April last year.

New Zealand maintains a presence in Afghanistan with 27 NZDF personnel based in Kabul and several agricultural and renewable energy projects in Bamyan.

IANS