Published: 3:28PM Monday September 03, 2012 Source: ONE News
New Zealand soldiers will withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of April next year.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman have this afternoon confirmed that Cabinet have agreed the NZ Army will pull out of Bamiyan province by the end of April 2013.
The Ministers said the announcement is the culmination of months of planning and is part of an orderly and sequenced International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) plan for transition.
The April withdrawal, which will follow the expected completion of transition of security responsibility to local Bamiyan forces at the beginning of October, has been endorsed by ISAF and has been signalled well in advance to partners.
It comes as support for military action in the war-torn country has waned after a number of New Zealand soldiers died in action.
Five soliders died within two weeks of each other, last month, prompting calls for the army to pull out early.
Coleman said today's announcement is a significant milestone in New Zealand's decade of involvement in Afghanistan.
"Over its 10-year deployment, the New Zealand PRT has contributed to international counter-terrorism efforts, improved security, and the development and governance of Bamiyan province," he said.
"Our success is reflected in Bamiyan's position as a leader in the transition process.
"We should not underestimate the challenges Afghanistan will continue to face.
"We should also acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who have lost their lives while on active service in the province.
"The timetable announced today reflects weeks of careful logistical planning, especially since news that the Bamiyan airport will not be available to Hercules flights after April 2013, due to a major upgrade of the runway."
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