The New Zealand government is keeping a careful eye on the Taliban’s comeback.

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Defence Minister Peeni Henare says the government is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan.

 

Afghan National Army stands guarded Bagram airfield in Kabul, on  3 July, 2021.

Afghan National Army stands guarded Bagram airfield in Kabul, on 3 July, 2021. Photo: AFP / Haroon Sabawoon

Violence has risen in Afghanistan and the Taliban has been making significant gains in recent weeks. The surge comes as the United States, United Kingdom and other allies withdraw their troops after 20 years.

New Zealand troops also withdrew from the country earlier this year, after having personnel deployed there since 2001 when US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power.

Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its Nato allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants not to allow any extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

But the Taliban did not agree to stop fighting Afghan forces, and now reportedly control about a third of the country, according to the BBC.

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Henare said no other countries had approached New Zealand to take any action in Afghanistan.

However, he has spoken to other countries about the situation.

“It came up recently at our ASEAN [The Association of Southeast Asian Nations] defence ministers meeting, a number of countries raised it, but not in the past week we haven’t,” he said.

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Defence Minister Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Henare said the situation was being watched by the government closely.

“We’ve just pulled our troops out of there and we will continue to make sure that we have an eye on what is going on there, but any decision for us to take action would be made by Cabinet.”

National Party foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said the situation in Afghanistan was “extremely disappointing”.

“I think New Zealand will always be a country that wants to participate in efforts to maintain and enhance democracy in parts of the world where we have made sacrifice in the past,” Brownlee said.

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“We have made big sacrifices there, but we don’t have the capacity, the size of the military on our own to do anything.”

Brownlee said New Zealand was in Afghanistan for a very long time to try and get stability.

However, he noted it was appropriate for New Zealand troops to withdraw earlier this year.

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