15 Mar 2012

Tonga keen to maintain benefits accruing from Afghanistan deployment

8:30 pm on 15 March 2012

A spokesperson for the Tonga prime minister says talks are ongoing about extending the deployment of troops to Afghanistan.

The prime minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, last month visited the Tongan troops, who have been providing security at Britain's Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

The arrangement finishes after the 4th rotation ends at the end of this year but Tonga wants Britain to roll it over for another two years.

The deputy secretary of government, Alfred Soakai, says if Britain, which funds the deployment, wants to continue, it would be valuable for Tonga.

"The contingent in Afghanistan, they provide the country with a lot of remittances. I believe it's 1.5 million [British] pounds as well as training and exposure and there is a bit of diplomatic value we get from being part of ISAF[ International Security Assistance Force]."