NZ weighing up Afghanistan troops request

Prime Minister Bill English says any extra support from New Zealand in Afghanistan must be consistent with its current contribution. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

New Zealand is weighing up whether to send more troops to Afghanistan after receiving a request from NATO, Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed.

News of the request comes as Australia has agreed to send 30 more troops to help take on the Taliban.

New Zealand currently has 10 Defence Force personnel in the country helping to train the Afghan National Army, and NATO would like us to send two more.

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference, English confirmed the Government had received a request on behalf of NATO from the US which it was still considering.

“We want to pull our weight as an international contributor in parts of the world that can generate instability that can affect us and our citizens, so we’ll consider the request but we haven’t taken it any further than that yet.

“The decision to deploy people is one we take seriously, so we want to make sure we get proper advice about it, whether it’s two or 22.”

The decision of other countries to commit more troops was a sign “no-one’s planning to leave Afghanistan in a hurry”, but the Government would seek a briefing on the situation in the country.

Any request needed to be in line with New Zealand’s existing contribution, English said.

“We’ve kept our involvement in Afghanistan relatively limited, consistent with the political discussion here in New Zealand and so we would expect that any request is consistent or proportionate with what our commitment actually is.”

US President Donald Trump is currently mulling whether to send extra troops to Afghanistan, but has reportedly faced pushback within his office about the wisdom of any new commitments.

New Zealand sent a provincial reconstruction team to the Bamiyan province in 2003, only withdrawing in 2013.