New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman arrived in Afghanistan Tuesday to visit troops in Bamyan province.
The visit comes after five New Zealand soldiers were killed in August this year.
“It was fitting to personally express the government’s condolences for the tragic loss of five soldiers that the departing rotation Crib 20 suffered and to thank the group for the on-going professionalism it continued to display,” the New Zealand TV quoted Coleman as saying.
During the three day visit, the minister met with the defence force’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and held talks with officials in Bamyan and Kabul.
“The visit was an opportunity to offer support to the PRT for the important work it has been performing in providing security to the province,” said Coleman.
New Zealand has had around 145 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2003, most of them based in Bamyan province. The troops will pull out of Afghanistan in April next year.
“I was also able to discuss New Zealand’s departure from Bamyan with the provincial governor and local security chiefs and to assess the work that needs to be done between now and April to ensure that the gains of the past decade are sustained in the long term,” he said.
“New Zealand’s decade in Bamyan will have made a massive difference in quality of life to the people there,” he added.
He also spent a day in Kabul where he met with Afghanistan’s newly appointed Defence Minister and held talks with senior Isaf commanders.