New Zealand to move forward Afghanistan withdrawal

By REUTERS
August 20, 2012 22:47




WELLINGTON - New Zealand will accelerate the withdrawal of its soldiers from Afghanistan after it lost another three troops in a province thought to have been the country's safest, but which is now being increasingly targeted by Taliban insurgents.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key said on Monday it was "highly likely" Wellington would start the pullout of its 145-strong contingent by next April, around six months earlier than expected.

But the drawdown would happen over months and "not days", Key said, adding the accelerated timetable was not because of the five soldiers killed this month in central Bamiyan and increasing unpopularity of the war among voters.

Bamiyan was one of the first provinces to be handed over to Afghan security forces in July 2011, ahead of a withdrawal of most NATO combat troops to be completed in 2014 and leaving behind it a reduced number of trainers and special forces.


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