New Zealand praised by NATO Secretary General

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Zealand has received praise from the Secretary General of NATO for their role in Afghanistan.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO has praised New Zealand's role in providing security, and aiding with reconstruction in Afghanistan. He made the comments in Wellington during a three-day visit of New Zealand.

"The fact that we are in Afghanistan, and that we see New Zealand participation in Afghanistan is proof that we are fighting this fight together," said Mr. Scheffer.

After talking with Mr. Scheffer, Prime Minister Helen Clark said "Later this year when the parliamentary elections are held in Afghanistan, the Bonn process will have run its course. We need to start talking with our partners in Nato, in the Afghanistan Government itself, about what is the post-Bonn process."

Mr. Scheffer is scheduled for further talks with the Prime Minister, as well as other ministers and officials Wednesday. On Thursday he will address Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies and the Institute of International Affairs. He is the first head of NATO to visit New Zealand.

Mr. Scheffer will leave on Thursday for Australia and then Japan.