Wellington, Feb 17 (IANS) New Zealand will conclude its deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to Afghanistan by May 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday."After 20 years of a NZDF presence in Afghanistan, it is now time to conclude our deployment," Ardern said in a statement."The deployments to Afghanistan have been one of the longest running in our history, and I wish to acknowledge the 10 New Zealanders who lost their lives in the line of duty, and the more than 3,500 NZDF and other agency personnel, whose commitment to replace conflict with peace will always be remembered," Ardern said.Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that although the environment remains complex, the intra-Afghan peace process affords Afghanistan the best prospect of an enduring political solution, Xinhua reported."New Zealand's decision to conclude its deployment to Afghanistan in 2021 has been discussed with our key partners, with whom we have cooperated closely over the last 20 years," Mahuta said.Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the current deployment consists of six NZDF personnel - three deployed to the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy, and three deployed to the NATO Resolute Support Mission Headquarters.
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