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New Zealand gov't confirms date for withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan

(Xinhua)

14:45, September 03, 2012

WELLINGTON, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Monday confirmed it would withdraw the bulk of its armed forces from Afghanistan by the end of April next year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman jointly announced the withdrawal of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) from Bamyan Province after five New Zealand troops were killed by insurgents in two attacks last month.

They said in a joint statement that it was the culmination of months of planning and part of an orderly and sequenced International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) plan for transition.

The withdrawal, which would follow the expected completion of transition of security responsibility to local Bamyan forces at the beginning of October, had been endorsed by ISAF and been signalled well in advance to partners, said the statement.

Coleman said the announcement was a significant milestone in New Zealand's decade of involvement in Afghanistan.

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