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NZDF taking up three roles in Afghanistan focused on women and peace - PM

New Zealand is taking up three roles focused on women, peace and security in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister announced today alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. 

New Zealand Defence Force will be deploying three personnel into the roles, joining the NATO mission in Kabul. 

"These roles will contribute towards safeguarding the hard-won gains Afghan women and girls have made since 2001," Jacinda Ardern said. 

"New Zealand's primary cooperation with NATO is through our deployment of NZ Defence Force military trainers to NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

"In June I announced the extension of this deployment to December next year, and mentioned we were exploring ways to contribute to NATO's women, peace and security initiatives."

The roles will also include supporting women's participation in peace negotiations, with two beginning in September for a year and the third from May 2020, lasting six months. 

It comes after RNZ reported New Zealand rejected NATO's request for troops to remain in Iraq. 

Jacinda Ardern spoke of the changing environment in Afghanistan. 

"Our role is changing, but so is the conflict there," she said. 

Mr Stoltenberg said he and Jacinda Ardern discussed New Zealand's "important role of our training mission in Afghanistan". 

"I welcome the offer from New Zealand to step up its efforts." He also welcomed New Zealand's financial contribution. 

He said NATO's mission would not stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary. "We are closer to a peace deal than ever before... Women have a stronger role in Afghanistan than ever before."

According to a UN report, more civilians were killed by Afghan and NATO forces than the Taliban in the first half of 2019. 

The total number of civilian casualties was 27 per cent lower than the same period in 2018, however, 1,366 people were killed and 2,446 injured overall in the first half of 2019. 

Those killed by Afghan and international forces was documented at 717 in that time, with 531 of the total reported being due to Taliban and other anti-Government militants.  

The report states women continue to be disproportionately impacted by the conflict, and children represented almost one-third of the total civilian casualties. 

Mr Stoltenberg said New Zealand's trainers were helping Afghans create peace. 

"We have sent a clear message to the Taliban they will not win on the battle field."

Ms Ardern said she and Mr Stoltenberg spoke about global threats such as terrorism, cyber security and maritime security, and reflected on the "extraordinary amount that has happened" since they last met. 

"Our country has experienced one of its darkest days," she said, referencing the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch. 

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They will work with the NATO mission in Kabul, Ms Ardern announced next to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Source: 1 NEWS