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General Petraeus visits NZ provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan

Photo: General Petraeus, flanked by NZPRT Senior Military Advisor Lieutenant Colonel Hugh McAslan, being welcomed onto Kiwibase.

17 May 2011

General David Petraeus, Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), visited the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) in Bamyan last week.

General Petraeus was welcomed onto Kiwibase with a powhiri and rousing haka performed by the NZPRT Maori Cultural Group and personally thanked each member while presenting them with his personal commemorative coin. 

General Petraeus met with NZPRT Director, Dick Newlands, NZPRT Senior Military Advisor, Lieutenant Colonel Hugh McAslan, and other key NZPRT staff, as well as Bamyan Governor, Dr Habiba Sarabi, and Provincial Government officials.  NZ Ambassador to Afghanistan, Neville Reilly, and NZ Senior National Officer in Afghanistan, Colonel Grant Motley, were also present.

Lieutenant Colonel Hugh McAslan, NZPRT Senior Military Advisor, said that the visit was very productive and General Petraeus had asked what he could do to support the NZPRT and Bamyan as one of the first provinces to move towards transition.

“General Petraeus confirmed his support for a number of initiatives proposed by Governor Sarabi and the NZPRT to support the transition process. The largely stable security environment in Bamyan has allowed the economy to develop and grow which provides a better standard of living for the citizens of the province.”

General Petraeus also briefly toured the alcoves of the Bamyan Buddhas, national treasures destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The site remains a potential tourist attraction as the improving security situation reopens up Afghanistan as a tourist destination.

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