WELLINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government announced Monday it will keep 27 military personnel in Afghanistan after it withdraws the bulk of its troops in April.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman issued a joint statement saying New Zealand would continue to make "a small but proportionate military commitment to the international mission" and remained committed to international efforts to improve the security and prosperity of Afghanistan.
"The current NATO/ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission is not scheduled to end until December 2014. As previously indicated, the government believes it remains in New Zealand's interests to continue to play our part to secure the gains that have been achieved in Afghanistan over the last decade," McCully said in the statement.
Most of the deployments would initially operate from the closing of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan Province for a one-year period to the end of April 2014.
The 27 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel would be based predominately in the capital, Kabul.
"While the overall numbers of this contribution are relatively small compared to the size of the PRT, the NZDF deployments cover a range of roles and will be highly-valued during the final stages of the ISAF mission," Coleman said in the statement.
"It is important that the gains that have been made over the last decade in security, development, health and human rights are not lost."
Twelve personnel would work in intelligence and planning roles in the ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters, while eight would be deployed to the UK-led Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy, and the rest would work with UN and ISAF bodies and the New Zealand National Support Element.
Coleman said he would lay out New Zealand's future contribution at the NATO/ISAF Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels this week.
The deployments were in addition to a contribution of 2 million U.S. dollars per year from 2015 to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces after the ISAF mission ends.
The New Zealand Embassy in Kabul was expected to close before the end of 2014.
The New Zealand PRT in Bamyan totals almost 200 personnel.