20 November 2008

NZ troops to stay in East Timor as long as necessary

20/11/2008 NZ Herald - New Zealand's peacekeeping troops will stay in East Timor for as long as necessary, new Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said today.

Mr Mapp was at Ohakea air base to see off the latest contingent of troops on their six-month tour of duty.

"We have to do what's required. We did pull out some years ago and we saw things deteriorate," Dr Mapp said on TV One News.

"We cannot let that happen again."

New Zealand has about 180 defence force personnel and 25 police in East Timor as part of an international peacekeeping force, and there has been a New Zealand presence in the country since it gained its independence from Indonesia in 1999.

East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao visited Wellington in August and thanked the then prime minister, Helen Clark, for New Zealand assistance.

Image: New Zealand troops in East Timor perform the haka - a traditional dance form of the indigenous people of New Zealand, the maori.

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