New Zealand will stop sending New Zealand troops to Afghanistan this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare announced today.
"After 20 years of a NZ Defence Force presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment," Ardern said.
"The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest-running in our history, and I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3500 Defence Force and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered," Jacinda Ardern said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that although the environment remained complex, the intra-Afghan peace process afforded Afghanistan the best prospect of an enduring political solution.
"New Zealand's decision to conclude its deployment to Afghanistan in 2021 has been discussed with our key partners, with whom we have cooperated closely over the past 20 years.
"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," Mahuta said.
Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the current deployment consists of six NZDF personnel - three deployed to the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy, and three deployed to the NATO Resolute Support Mission Headquarters.
"Together with our partners, New Zealand helped to establish the conditions for the current intra-Afghan peace process. We've supported regional security, and helped to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province.
"Another important element of New Zealand's support for Afghanistan has been our contribution to training and mentoring a new generation of officers in the Afghanistan Army. The success of the mentoring programme being conducted with the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy means it is now self-sufficient enough for New Zealand's contribution there to conclude," Peeni Henare said.