28 Oct 2003

Australia and New Zealand confirm most soldiers to be withdrawn from Solomons before Christmas

4:55 pm on 28 October 2003

Australia and New Zealand are reducing their military commitment to Solomon Islands.

The Australian Government says 80 percent of their troops in Solomon Islands will be withdrawn before Christmas.

The Minister Robert Hill says good progress in restoring law and order meant 800 personnel would be withdrawn over the next few months.

He says two infantry companies will be left there to provide ongoing and necessary back up for the police.

Australia initially deployed 1,400 defence personnel plus 250 police to the Solomons with the first landing on July 24.


New Zealand is also downsizing its commitment.

An infantry comapny will be reduced to a platoon and two of the four helicopters and crew will be withdrawn over the next two months.

The rest of the military force will be pulled out by mid next year.

However Defence Minister Mark Burton says the 35 New Zealand police officers will remain there for another two years.