Minister of Defence departs for Middle East

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare has today departed for the Middle East where he will visit New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deployed within the region, including in Operation Gallant Phoenix in Jordan and the Multinational Force and Observers mission on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.

The Minister will also undertake bilateral meetings with his counterparts in Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

“The Government has recently extended the mandates for New Zealand’s Peace Support Operations in the Middle East, so I am eager to visit our dedicated personnel on the ground who are furthering New Zealand’s security interests and improving regional security and stability.” Peeni Henare said.

The Minister’s visit has been scheduled at the first opportunity since travel restrictions were eased following the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Alongside these visits, I am also looking forward to meeting with counterparts face to face, many for the first time, to exchange perspectives on regional and global security issues.” Peeni Henare said.

New Zealand’s multilateral peace support deployments in the Middle East and Africa are longstanding. Since the last visit to the region by a Minister of Defence in January 2019, ISIS was territorially defeated by Coalition forces, the international community withdrew from Afghanistan and subsequently conducted an unprecedented non-combatant evacuation operation.

The Minister will be joined on the visit by Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour. The delegation returns to New Zealand on 12 October.