New Zealand troops to leave Afghanistan early

By on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

New Zealand said on Tuesday it will withdraw its 145 troops from Afghanistan in late 2013, a year ahead of schedule, after paving the way for an early handover to local authorities.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the success of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) in central Bamiyan province meant the troops were able to leave next year, rather than 2014 as originally planned.

The early departure “reflects the outstanding work that New Zealand PRT personnel have done to prepare the province for transition to local control”, McCully said.

“I think it’s been regarded widely as a model PRT in Afghanistan,” McCully told Radio New Zealand from Chicago, where he was attending a NATO summit.

He said New Zealand would maintain a development role in Bamiyan province, where the PRT has been deployed since 2003, and provide support for army officer training in Afghanistan.

A New Zealand deployment of about 40 elite Special Air Services (SAS) troops based in Kabul ended its mission in March this year.

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