Longer Afghanistan stay for NZ troops

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 10:46 19/12/2013

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New Zealand soldiers will remain in Afghanistan till the end of next year rather than pulling out in April, the Government says.

Twenty-seven Defence Force personnel are in Kabul working with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters and the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA).

The deployment, which does not include any frontline troops, was due to finish in April but has been pushed out to December.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand's work in Afghanistan would be "business as usual".

"New Zealand remains committed to fulfilling our role as part of the ISAF mission to secure the gains made in Afghanistan over the last decade," he said.

"New Zealand will continue to make financial and development contributions to Afghanistan. The nature of those contributions has not been finalised."

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said New Zealand troops would stay to support the final stages of the ISAF mission.

Most foreign troops are due to leave by the end of next year, but Coleman said a small group of personnel was expected to remain at the British-led ANAOA beyond 2014 to continue supporting its newly formed military and police forces.

New Zealand officially withdrew from Afghanistan in April, but the 27 military personnel, including three SAS soldiers, stayed on.

Ten Kiwi troops have died in Afghanistan since 2010.

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