22 Nov 2006

New Zealand says security forces sent to Tonga help maintain peace

7:35 pm on 22 November 2006

New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, says police and defence force personnel sent to Tonga are there to help authorities maintain law and order so the reform process can proceed peacefully.

Mr Peters says he rejects suggestions that New Zealand has effectively sided with the Tongan government by deploying personnel.

He says the New Zealand presence is not about taking sides.

Mr Peters says New Zealand has and Australia have financially supported the work of the National Committee on Political Reform, assisted with the revision of the cabinet manual and provided a mediator to assist with the public service strike last year.