WikiLeaks cable: NZ troops return from Iraq, no future deployments scheduled

September 27, 2004
NZ troops return from Iraq, no future deployments scheduled

SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND TROOPS RETURN FROM IRAQ; NO FUTURE
DEPLOYMENTS SCHEDULED

Classified By: POL/ECON COUNSELOR KATHERINE B. HADDA,
REASON 1.5 (B, D)

1. (C) Summary: New Zealand's 12-month military deployment to
Iraq ended September 25, with the homecoming of over 60
engineers and support staff. Prime Minister Helen Clark
welcomed the troops, and issued a public statement confirming
that no further deployments to Iraq are being considered.
While ruling out military assistance, Clark did, however,
indicate a willingness to provide additional aid funds, and
to look favorably on a request from the UN for one or two
military officers to serve in UN headquarters in Baghdad.
Post continues to encourage the GoNZ to remain engaged in
Iraq, but political and resource constraints virtually ensure
Clark will not go beyond what she has already indicated. End
Summary.

NZ Troops Return Home
----------------------

2. (U) New Zealand's 61-person Light Engineer Group was
welcomed home September 25 by New Zealand Prime Minister
Helen Clark and Defense Minister Mark Burton, ending NZ's
military presence in Iraq. The engineers, second 6-month
deployment in Basra, Iraq had been hampered in recent weeks
by deteriorating security conditions, but Clark stressed that
the engineers had not simply waited out their time, but had
remained in the hopes of completing more of their planned
work.

No Troops, But Financial Aid Possible
-------------------------------------

3. (C) In media interviews Clark has made clear that the GoNZ
is not considering sending either military or civilian aid
personnel to Iraq, noting that the situation is "too
difficult and too dangerous." While ruling out military
assistance, Clark has, however, stated publicly a willingness
to provide additional aid funds, and to look favorably on a
request from the UN for one or two military officers to serve
in UN headquarters in Baghdad. (Comment: A senior MOD
source told DCM that the New Zealand UN Mission had been
instructed to work with the UN to ensure that an
"appropriate" invitation would be issued once the UN was
ready to return to Iraq. End Comment.) In an interview with
NZ media September 26, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi
emphasized that a secure Iraq would serve as a defense for
New Zealand. He listed a number of areas where the GoNZ
could assist, including the provision of troops to protect UN
agencies, technical assistance or participation in the
multinational force.

4. (C) Comment: Clark's insistence that further GoNZ
assistance would be either solely financial, or at the behest
of the UN is in keeping in tone with earlier comments. She
has always studiously refrained from linking NZ's presence in
Iraq to the US and the Coalition, and consistently argued
that her government's decision to deploy to Iraq was taken in
order to support NZ's commitments to the UN and the
multilateral system. Despite this, Post continues to
emphasize that, under UN auspices or not, the GoNZ needs to
remain engaged in Iraq in some capacity. While Clark was
adamant that the troops were returning based on a
pre-determined schedule (and indeed, they are in need of a
rest after a their grueling six-month deployment), domestic
pressures have likely played a role. Much of the North
Island was damaged by severe storms and flooding in the first
half of 2004. Infrastructure repairs have been hampered by a
shortage of civil engineers, and the returning troops will
fill this critical gap.
Burnett

- Herald on Sunday

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