• Jack Elder
Prime Minister

"Special Air Services (SAS) personnel in the Multinational Coalition in the Gulf will be redeployed to New Zealand from this week," Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"The move is in concert with Australian personnel of the ANZAC Special Operations Force and follows direct discussions between the Minister of Defence, Hon Max Bradford, and Australia's Defence Minister, Hon Ian McLachlan. The ANZAC redeployment is also consistent with a United States announcement that it will draw down some of its Coalition contribution for the time being," Mrs Shipley said.

"New Zealand remains committed to the Multinational Coalition. The United Nations Security Council will in October resume consideration of whether Iraq has met its obligations to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programme. In the meantime, the work of the United Nations weapons inspectors will continue.

"The redeployment is a sensible operational decision at this time. It does not lessen the Multinational Coalition's ability to support the United Nation's weapons inspections programmes for Iraq as significant Forces remain in the Gulf and can be supplemented rapidly by personnel, such as the ANZAC Special Operations unit.

"New Zealand's SAS, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force Orions committed to the Coalition, will remain ready for rapid deployment to the Gulf, if necessary, to join other Coalition units in support of the United Nations' weapons inspection programme," Mrs Shipley concluded