N. Zealand renews Sinai troop commitment

New Zealand on Wednesday extended its troop commitment to the Sinai multinational peacekeeping force for another two years, a senior official said. New Zealand's contribution of 26 personnel to the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) - which helps monitor the 1979 Egypt-Israeli peace deal - will continue until April 2008, Defense Minister Phil Goff said. New Zealand has posted troops to the force since 1982. Since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, the peacekeepers have played a leading role in creating conditions under which border guards could be deployed and border crossings opened, Goff said. New Zealand forces train over 1,800 personnel from other nations for duties along the border each year. It also contributes drivers, engineers and staff officers to the force headquarters at El Gorah, on Egypt's northern Sinai peninsula, and holds several senior staff appointments, Goff noted.