INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ Accreditation To Kabul Strengthens Ties

Published: Thu 18 Sep 2003 02:04 PM
New Zealand Accreditation To Kabul Strengthens Ties
New Zealand's Ambassador to Iran Niels Holm presented his credentials in Kabul as part of the deepening ties between New Zealand and Afghanistan, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Mr Sutton said that since Afghanistan began its journey back to constitutional and democratic government, marked by the signature of the Bonn Accord in December 2001, relations between New Zealand and Afghanistan have been growing.
"The relationship has been built up through contacts with the new Afghani administration, for example during Phil Goff's visit to Afghanistan in December last year."
Mr Sutton said New Zealand welcomed the progress achieved to date in implementing the Bonn Accord and supports the efforts of the Government of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan to restore peace, stability and constitutional democratic government.
"The return to school of almost six million children, the return of nearly two million refugees to their communities, the establishment of a constitutional commission and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and the preparations being made for democratic elections are all very positive developments."
Afghanistan's ambassador, resident in Canberra, presented credentials at Government House in May, formalising diplomatic ties between Afghanistan and New Zealand for the first time.
Mr Sutton said that despite some progress, the security situation in Afghanistan remained challenging.
"The decision to cross-accredit our Ambassador in Tehran to Kabul shows New Zealand's commitment to supporting Afghanistan on the path back to constitutional and democratic government."
New Zealand has already provided more than NZ$4.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan through United Nations agencies and New Zealand non-governmental organisations. New Zealand also contributes to the International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom, and in a major new initiative will take over leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamian next week. Some ninety New Zealand troops are already in place, and their presence has been welcomed by both the government in Kabul and the local community.
Niels Holm presented his credentials to President Karzai yesterday in Kabul. He has been Ambassador in Tehran since December 2001, and is also cross-accredited to Pakistan.
ENDS

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