New Zealand extends special forces Afghan deployment

February 1, 2011 06:31


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WELLINGTON, New Zealand  — New Zealand will extend the deployment of its special forces soldiers to Afghanistan for another year from April but will reduce numbers from 70 to around 35.

Prime Minister John Key said that the deployment will likely be the last by the Special Air Service elite combat troops. He denied that he had been pressured by the United States, Britain or any other nation to keep the troops overseas.

Key said Tuesday that the SAS will continue its work to improve the operational standard of the Afghan crisis response unit, an elite police counter-terrorism unit.

US Secretary of State Hillary said during a visit to New Zealand in November she hoped the SAS deployment would be extended.

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