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Houthi attacks: New Zealand to send defence team to secure Red Sea shipping
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/samuel hanna

Houthi attacks: New Zealand to send defence team to secure Red Sea shipping

| @indiablooms | 23 Jan 2024, 11:50 pm

Wellington: The New Zealand government decided on Tuesday to send a small defence team to the Middle East to safeguard Red Sea shipping, but the country's opposition party said the deployment will further inflame tensions in the region.

New Zealand is deploying a six-member New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) team to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea to ensure global trade, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said after this year's first cabinet meeting.

"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 percent 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 that the deployed team will contribute to the collective self-defence of ships in the Middle East.

No NZDF personnel or ship will enter Yemen, said the prime minister, adding that it is part of a continuous New Zealand defence contribution to maritime security in the Middle East since 2013.

Acting unilaterally or in concert with its allies and partners, the U.S. military has launched eight rounds of strikes against Houthi targets since January 12.

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 that New Zealand cares deeply about regional security because its economic and strategic interests depend on it.

New Zealand Defence 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.

(With UNI/Xinhua inputs)

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