WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s government today said it will maintain defence personnel in the Solomon Islands at the request of local authorities until at least Dec 31, 2023, extending a peace-keeping mission by as much as seven months.
New Zealand deployed defence force staff to the Pacific country in late 2021 at the request of the Solomon Islands following anti-government protests alongside defence personnel from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
It currently has 15 New Zealand defence force personnel deployed there who were originally scheduled to pull out by May 31.
“We are proud to be part of this Australian-coordinated, regional effort where police and defence organisations from within the Pacific work together to support the region’s own security needs,” said New Zealand defence minister Andrew Little.
New Zealand, Australia and other allies and friends have raised concerns about China signing a security pact with the Solomon Islands and the potential for militarisation of the region.
New Zealand leaders have repeatedly said security challenges in the region should be dealt with by those in the region.
The response to the Solomon Islands has been used to highlight success.