WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Tuesday said that his government will be sending a small defence team to the Middle East to safeguard Red Sea shipping, the media reported.
The country will be deploying a six-member New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) team to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea to ensure global trade, Prime Minister Luxon said, Xinhua news agency reported.
“This deployment, as part of an international coalition, is a continuation of New Zealand’s long history of defending freedom of navigation both in the Middle East and closer to home,” Luxon said.
Almost 15 per cent of global trade goes through the Red Sea, and the Houthi attacks are driving costs higher for exporters and causing delays to shipments, he said.
Houthi attacks against commercial and naval shipping are illegal, unacceptable and profoundly destabilising, he said, adding the deployed team will contribute to the collective self-defense of ships in the Middle East.
No NZDF personnel or ship will enter Yemen, said the prime minister, adding it is part of a continuous New Zealand defence contribution to maritime security in the Middle East since 2013.
Since January 12, acting unilaterally or in concert with its allies and partners, the US military has launched eight rounds of strikes against Houthi targets.
Commenting on these attacks, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said “these efforts support international security and the free flow of trade on which New Zealanders rely,” adding New Zealand cares deeply about regional security because its economic and strategic interests depend on it.
New Zealand Defense Minister Judith Collins said the Houthi attacks showed a disregard for international law, peace and stability, and the coalition response is an inevitable consequence of their actions.
However, the opposition Green Party said New Zealand’s deployment to the Red Sea is to “further inflame tensions in the Middle East.”
The deployment is to conclude no later than July 31.