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Key commits NZ forces to Nato agreement

Published: 12:51PM Tuesday June 05, 2012 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key has reinforced the ties between New Zealand's armed forces and Nato in Brussels today.

Kiwi troops have been serving under the Nato banner for the past nine years as part of the coalition force in Afghanistan.

Key said the co-operation agreement signed today with Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen formalises New Zealand's commitment to the organisation.

"The arrangement is a non-binding agreement that will be used to maintain ongoing political and operational discussions and underpin any future co-operation with Nato where it is mutually desirable," he said.

"Co-operation could come in a number of areas, including maintaining ongoing political dialogue on security issues of mutual interest, offering further Nato training opportunities to our Defence Force and engagement with Nato as it moves to tackle emerging security challenges of interest to New Zealand."

On a recent trip to New Zealand the commander of Nato's military forces, Admiral James Stavridis, said the SAS were no longer needed in Afghanistan.

However, he said it was possible the elite troops may be deployed to help fight global threats in the future.

"All of the threats we face today are trans-national," he said. "They're global and so there's a role for all of us to work together to face them."

The remaining Kiwi soldiers who are helping to train Afghanistan's security forces are due to leave the country towards the end of next year.

The mission in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of five Kiwi troops, including two members of the elite SAS.