22 May 2012

NZ troops to exit Afghanistan in late 2013

11:13 pm on 22 May 2012

New Zealand's main defence commitment to Afghanistan is to end in late 2013, with the early return home of the provincial reconstruction team from Bamyan.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully made the announcement at a NATO summit in Chicago.

He says the withdrawal reflects the outstanding work the team has done to prepare the province for transition to local control.

The return is ahead of schedule, as the Government had committed to having defence personnel there until 2014, but Mr McCully says the team's work is coming to an end.

Mr McCully says after 2013, a small number of officers will be made available to help train the Afghan National Army and New Zealand will continue to provide development assistance in Bamyan.

The Government previously said troops might have to stay in Afghanistan until late 2014. It has pledged $US2 million annually to Afghan security forces until 2015.