11 Feb 2015

Iraq's Foreign Minister to visit NZ

4:23 pm on 11 February 2015

Iraq's Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim al-Ja'afari will be in New Zealand for a one day visit on Friday.

Dr Ibrahim al-Ja'afari

Dr Ibrahim al-Ja'afari Photo: AFP

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is welcoming the upcoming visit, saying international attention is currently on Iraq and its new government.

He said New Zealand was currently considering options for sending training troops to Iraq and this visit was an opportunity to gain the Iraqi government's perspective on how this country could best assist.

"Any capacity building role for the New Zealand military in Iraq will be dependent on an invitation from the Iraqi Government.

"The discussions with Foreign Minister al-Ja'afari this Friday are an important step in determining whether there is a role for us to play in support of the Iraqi defence forces," Mr McCully said.

Dr al-Ja'afari will meet with Prime Minister John Key, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Mr McCully.

Mr Brownlee has announced the Defence Force is ready to start specific contingency training at Linton and Waiouru.

Mr Brownlee said the training would cover areas such as force protection, cultural awareness and skills relevant to a possible deployment.

Defence would not define what that means, for reasons of operational security.

In November New Zealand sent 10 military planners to Iraq to determine what the country could contribute to the Iraqi defence force in their fight against ISIL.

Prime Minister John Key said the Cabinet would make a decision about any possible deployment by the end of the month at the earliest.

The United States is leading an international coalition against Islamic State, whose fighters have killed thousands of people while seizing swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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