26 Aug 2012

Taliban threats won't deter NZ - Coleman

9:01 pm on 26 August 2012

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says threats against New Zealand soldiers by the Taliban won't deflect the course of their engagement there.

The Herald on Sunday quotes a Taliban spokeman who says New Zealanders are being targetted in Afghanistan, that there is no safety for them there, and they will be killed if they are found by the Taliban.

Five New Zealand soldiers have died in Afghanistan this month, bringing the toll during the deployment of troops in the country to 10.

Dr Coleman told the Q+A programme on TVNZ the comments are disturbing, but the Government already knows the deployment is dangerous.

He said New Zealand will remain in Afghanistan until April, so it can continue to offer help and support for aid projects (in Bamyan province).

Former Afghan foreign minister (1992 - 1996) Najibullah Lafraie says the Taliban will be monitoring the reaction of the New Zealand Government to the recent deaths in Afghanistan.

Now a senior lecturer in politics at Otago University, Mr Lafraie said on Q+A that he believes the Taliban are ready for peace and that can be reached only through dialogue following the withdrawal of foreign troops.

New Zealand forces have been deployed in Afghanistan since 2003.