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Key Says Afghan Troops Decision Will Be Based On NZ Interest

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, July 27 NZPA - Decisions on whether more troops are sent to Afghanistan will be made in New Zealand's interests, Prime Minister John Key says.

United States ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), Ivo Daalder, has upped the pressure on the government to give further help.

About 140 army, navy and air force personnel are involved in New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team (PRT) operating in Bamiyan province. The team has been there since 2003.

The Special Air Services (SAS) has been deployed there three times, the last in 2006.

The United States has repeatedly asked for an increased military presence.

The Government this year began a review into its commitment when it announced it would roll over its army presence in Afghanistan until September 2010.

The review was expected to go before Cabinet next month.

Dr Daalder told the New Zealand Herald the US wanted the SAS, more troops, aid, more police and army trainers as well as civilians with expertise.

Dr Daalder highlighted the relationship between New Zealand and the United States military.

"Being part of this Western effort is important," he said.

"It is important for the self-definition of who New Zealand is, I would say."

Dr Daalder said New Zealand should consider not just its relations with the US, but with other allies, particularly Australia.

"God forbid there be a threat directly to New Zealand. Wouldn't it then be good for a country like Holland or Canada or Slovakia or the US to be there `for you'?"

Mr Key told NewstalkZB Dr Daalder was making an argument.

"I don't think he's threatening us," he said.

"I think some of these guys sometimes can be a little gung ho in their comments and the way that they phrase them."

Decisions about where New Zealand troops and other resources were sent were up to the government to make.

"We'll make those decisions on what we think is in the best interest of New Zealand, and we will weigh up a lot of factors, and we recognise the role that others play or could play if it came to supporting us."

It was important to remember New Zealand was one of the first to commit in Afghanistan and the SAS had done three separate rotations, Mr Key said.

Previously Mr Key said New Zealanders were exposed to harm around the world and understood its obligations to international security.

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