The Secretary General said the NATO-New Zealand Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP) formalised ties between the two sides after almost two decades of increased cooperation.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said the Alliance’s ties with New Zealand, which has been an active participant in the ISAF mission, go well beyond Afghanistan. “Partnerships are essential to NATO’s success and we want to be even more closely connected with countries that are willing to contribute to global security where we all have a stake,“ the Secretary General said after his talks with Prime Minister Key.
New Zealand currently contributes over 150 personnel to ISAF, the majority of who are deployed in Bamyan Province at the Provincial Reconstruction Team. It also has troops stationed in Kabul.
The Secretary General used the visit of Prime Minister Key to praise his country’s commitment to the Afghan mission as well as the progress New Zealand forces have made since 2003.
He said significant security gains have been made in Bamyan Province, which was one of the first to transition to Afghan security responsibility.
New Zealand was one of 13 partners from around the world who joined NATO nations for a special meeting at the Chicago Summit last month to discuss common challenges.
The Secretary General said the partnership agreement signed on Monday maps out practical steps where NATO and New Zealand will deepen their cooperation. “We may be far away geographically, but we are linked by common values and commitment,” said the Secretary General. “NATO looks forward to building on this important partnership in the years to come.”
New Zealand’s partnership programme focuses on improving future cooperation in areas such as cyber-defence, disaster relief, crisis management and joint education and training. NATO sees New Zealand as a key partner in these areas. The Alliance has similar partnership programmes with Switzerland and Sweden among others.