3 Nov 2014

Government cautious over IS fight role

6:50 pm on 3 November 2014

The Government is being quite cautious in the approach it intends to take in the fight against Islamic State (IS), Prime Minister John Key says.

John Key at today's media standup.

Prime Minister John Key Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Mr Key will on Wednesday spell out what New Zealand intends to do about the threat posed by foreign fighters, as well as give some specific numbers about the people involved.

"What you'll see is a definition around the number of people we think are a very credible risk, and they're people who either want to leave the country and be foreign fighters or they're people that are financially supporting that cause," he said.

"Then you'll see a definition of people currently in Syria and Iraq actually fighting alongside IS."

Mr Key said he would also lay a out a clear path for New Zealand's contribution to the international efforts against IS in Iraq.

The situation was changing rapidly and the Government was aware that if New Zealand committed any resources, it could end up being for the long term.

"Experience tells you that once you commit, if you do commit resources to a region like Iraq, the reality is you're there for quite a long time," he said.

"So it's easy for people to say, look it's 18 months or it's three years, or whatever, but as we know with our involvement in Bamyan, it ultimately was a lot longer than we thought."

"We've been very careful about our thought process, we've been quite cautious in the steps that we're taking; we've got a plan for where we think a contribution might make sense and we've got a sense of what we either are comfortable with, or not comfortable with."

New Zealand would make up its own mind and would not seek the endorsement of the likes of the G20 countries before deciding on a course of action, Mr Key said.

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