From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO: New Zealand is a highly valued partner. And I want to express NATO’s gratitude for your country’s commitment to our mission in Afghanistan.
New Zealand has been committed to the mission in Afghanistan since 2003, and your troops do an outstanding job. I pay tribute to their courage, their professionalism, and their sacrifice. They are making a real difference in the interest of our shared security – and I thank New Zealand for that.
At the Chicago summit, two weeks ago, we set out a clear path to complete our current mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2104. And we sent out a clear signal to the Afghan people and the region that we will continue to stay committed beyond 2014.
New Zealand is playing a vital role. With your support, the Afghan forces are already taking responsibility for security in the Bamyan province. And your commitment to help continue training and funding them will help ensure that we maintain the achievements we have made in Afghanistan with such great investment in blood and resources.
Partnerships are essential to NATO’s success. And we want to be even more closely connected with countries that are also willing to contribute to global security, where we all have a stake. Today, we signed the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme which formalises the ties between NATO and New Zealand, after almost two decades of gradual engagement.
This programme maps out the practical steps to take in our partnership. And it sets out the framework for our strategic relationship. This is a truly significant moment. We may be far away geographically, but we are linked by common values and commitment.
And NATO looks forward to building on this important partnership in the years to come.
Remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen before meeting with John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. (photo: NATO)