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N Zealand troops may extend stay in Kabul: PM

New Zealand's reconstruction team was scheduled to leave Kabul in Sep 2006 after three years of posting at bamiyan province.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 11:36 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

New Zealand has again hinted that it will extend the work of its troops in Afghanistan for another year, local media reported on Monday.

I don't think it is any secret we are likely to roll over the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team)," Prime Minister Helen Clark was quoted as saying in Chile on Sunday, after meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Put it this way, there is no plan B," she added, noting that Rice had expressed US "appreciation for what we had done in Afghanistan. It was a very pleasant conversation."

New Zealand's provincial reconstruction team was scheduled to leave Afghanistan in September 2006 after three years posted to Bamiyan province, northeast of the capital, Kabul.

Clark and Rice were both in Chile at the inauguration of the South American nation's new president, Michele Bachelet.

Defence Minister Phil Goff first gave a hint late last month that the government would likely extend the troops' stay for another year from September.

New Zealand troops "have made -and will continue to make - a very real contribution in" Afghanistan, Goff said after meeting with the head of US Central Command, Gen John Abizaid.

New Zealand also has deployed special air service commandos to Afghanistan's frontier areas to tackle insurgents over the past four years.

First Published: Mar 13, 2006 11:36 IST