NEW ZEALAND TO TRIM TROOPS IN SOLOMONS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, July 5) - New Zealand plans to cut the number of its troops in the Solomon Islands and deployments will be rotated with four other countries, government officials say.

Up to 120 New Zealand troops are due to return home soon.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, says platoons of 33 troops will be sent to the Solomons for up to three months at a time, and will rotate with those from Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea until July 2006.

"The main task of the platoon will be patrols on Malaita, which has been one of the more troubled areas, the provision of a rapid response capability, and perimeter security for the prison," she said.

Clark says a New Zealand officer will be stationed at the Solomons regional assistance mission for the entire period.

Although law and order have been re-established, core issues like corruption still need to be addressed.

July 6, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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