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Cabinet To Consider Afghan Deployment

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bill English
Bill English

Wellington, Aug 5 NZPA - A review of New Zealand's commitment to Afghanistan will be considered by Cabinet within the next two weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

New Zealand has come under pressure from the United States to deploy Special Air Service (SAS) troops to help in the battle against terrorism, but opinions on whether that should happen are split.

Mr English was pressed in Parliament today by Green MPs to explain under what capacity SAS troops would be deployed and whether a provincial reconstruction team working in Bamiyan province at the moment would be withdrawn.

Keith Locke said US combat forces appeared to be losing support among Afghans because of the number of civilian casualties, and wanted to know whether a New Zealand deployment would be working alongside those forces.

Mr English was also questioned about the controversial handing over in 2002 by New Zealand troops to United States colleagues of Afghan prisoners when they allegedly knew those prisoners would be mistreated.

Mr English said in 2004 and 2005 a message through diplomatic and defence channels was sent by New Zealand to the United States government about prisoner treatment expectations.

"The Prime Minister also notes that the current US administration under President Obama has placed an emphasis on the non-use of torture and the humane treatment of detainees as evidenced by the decision to close its detention facility in Guantanamo Bay."

Mr English said in 2002 the SAS had acted in good faith in entrusting detainees to the US.

He said views on the future of the special provincial reconstruction team and another possible SAS deployment were being considered and there would be an announcement once Cabinet had made a decision.

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