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N. Zealand troops to pull out in April

Sept. 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- New Zealand announced it will pull its forces from the Bamiyan Provincial Reconstruction Team in April, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

"Bamiyan was one of the Afghan provinces first designated for transition to Afghan security responsibility ... due in great part to the extraordinary contribution of New Zealand in improving development and security for the people of Bamiyan," ISAF commander Gen. John Allen said in a release.

The New Zealand troops always raised his spirits with their positive attitude and "genuine commitment to mission accomplishment," Allen said. "The entire coalition salutes them for a job very well done."

The departure of New Zealand forces is part of the overall security transition to Afghan forces, scheduled to assume total responsibility for security in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stressed the decision to close the Bamiyan operation wasn't linked to recent deaths of New Zealand soldiers. Key said New Zealand troops remain committed to a presence at ISAF headquarters and to supporting Afghan security forces after 2014.

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