1 Dec 2006

Troops sent to Tonga to restore calm depart

11:51 am on 1 December 2006

The withdrawal of troops sent to restore calm in Tonga nearly two weeks ago has begun.

50 Australian soldiers returned home yesterday, while the New Zealand Defence Minister Phil Goff has confirmed New Zealand troops will withdraw this weekend.

The ANZAC force was sent after rioting destroyed most of the central business district of the capital Nuku'Alofa on November 16th.

Mr Goff says the soldiers' job is now complete and Tongan authorities are confident that should any unexpected disturbance arise, they will be able to handle the situation.

He says the way is now open for reconciliation and progress to be made on getting democratic reform in Tonga.