Subject: NZ Govt announces extension of helicopter deployment in Timor


Govt announces extension of helicopter deployment in Timor Tue, 26 Feb 2008 12:59p.m

Defence Minister Phil Goff has welcomed a decision to extend the United Nations mission in East Timor for another year and announced an extension of the deployment of two New Zealand helicopters.

New Zealand currently has 25 police, 142 soldiers and two UN military liaison officers serving in an international stabilisation force.

For the past 10 months, the Defence Force has also provided two Iroquois helicopters and 32 associated staff.

Mr Goff said Cabinet yesterday decided the helicopters and crews, which have been used for medical evacuations and carrying freight, would remain in Timor until the end of October this year.

The announcement follows a UN Security Council decision last night to extend its peacekeeping mission for another year.

The mission, called UNMIT, is authorised to deploy up to 1608 police and nearly three dozen military personnel.

The South African-drafted resolution, which was unanimously approved by the Security Council, reiterated its condemnation of the attempted assassination of East Timorese President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta two weeks ago.

The resolution of the 15-nation council also said that "the political, security, social, and humanitarian situation in Timor-Leste (East Timor) remains fragile" and urged all interested parties in the country to shun violence and pursue peaceful dialogue to resolve all disagreements.

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