Sydney, Australia, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand government on Wednesday announced it will withdraw the last of its last troops in Afghanistan by May, after two decades of peacekeeping missions and training of Afghan security forces.
“After 20 years of a NZDF (New Zealand Defense Force) presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement, recalling the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives and the more than 3,500 troops deployed since 2001 in the South Asian country.
Six military personnel – three in training tasks at the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy and another three deployed to the NATO support mission – remain in the country.
“The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest running in our history,” said the prime minister, who added that the decision has been discussed with “key partners.”
The government also stressed its commitment to the peace process as the best prospect for a lasting political solution in Afghanistan.
“New Zealand will continue to be supportive of the Afghan Government and its people in the years to come, including as they work through the intra-Afghan peace process in an effort to resolve the decades-long conflict,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said. EFE-EPA