4 May, 2010
PM concludes visit to Afghanistan
Prime Minister John Key has completed a three-day visit to Afghanistan where he met New Zealand troops and held talks with government and military officials, including President Hamid Karzai.
Mr Key arrived in Kabul on Saturday 1 May. That day he met the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General Stanley McChrystal.
On Sunday he met President Karzai, Afghan Civil Society representatives, the UN Deputy Special Representative Robert Watkins and Kabul-based New Zealanders. Mr Key then flew by RNZAF Hercules from Kabul to Bamyan to visit the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) based there.
Yesterday, Mr Key met the Bamyan Province governor, Mrs Habiba Sarabi, and visited the NZAID-funded hospital at Bamyan, a bazaar and a local girls school. He then departed by Hercules late last night (NZ time) out of the country.
"This visit has given me a good opportunity to meet our troops based in Afghanistan, and a chance to see for myself the conditions they face," says Mr Key.
"It has also allowed me to get first-hand impressions on Afghanistan's security from the most senior officials and politicians in the country.
"New Zealand forces are in Afghanistan to help provide reconstruction assistance and ensure stability. The situation in Afghanistan requires an ongoing international programme of security and development assistance, and that is what our commitments are helping provide."
Mr Key also welcomed the announcement today by Foreign Minister Murray McCully of two important appointments in Afghanistan. New Zealand's first resident Ambassador in Kabul will be retired Brigadier Neville Reilly, and the first civilian director of the PRT will be former Air Commodore Dick Newlands.
The Prime Minister arrives back in New Zealand tomorrow (Wednesday). There was no advance publicity of the visit to Afghanistan for security reasons.