New Zealand to Withdraw Last Troops From Afghanistan After 20 Years

New Zealand will pull out the last of its military personnel from Afghanistan by May, ending the country’s longest-running military personnel deployment, in which 10 New Zealanders were killed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the withdrawal on Feb. 17, saying that the decision had been discussed with “key partners.”

Ardern said that New Zealand had deployed over 3,500 military personnel in Afghanistan over a conflict that started after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, thought to have operated in Afghanistan, organized the attack.

The deployment has gradually reduced in recent years. Currently, only six personnel remain — three at the Afghanistan National Army Office Academy and three at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Resolute Support Mission Headquarters.

“I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3,500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered,” Ardern said.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahut said that the internal peace process in Afghanistan indicated the best prospect for an enduring political solution, which meant that the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) in the South Asian country was no longer needed.

“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,” Mahut said.

“We’ve supported regional security, and helped to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan,” Defense Minister Peeni said.

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