27 Feb 2015

Tony Abbott officially welcomed

9:48 pm on 27 February 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been formally welcomed at Government House in Auckland.

Tony Abbott is officially welcomed at Government House in Auckland.

Tony Abbott is officially welcomed at Government House in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Mr Abbott was given a 19 gun salute and powhiri.

He was welcomed by Prime Minister John Key and members of the military.

The two leaders will hold their annual talks tomorrow morning.

Mr Key has signalled they will discuss a range of political, economic, social and security issues.

It is Mr Abbott's first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister.

John Key and Tony Abbott will hold their talks and a news conference tomorrow, before heading to the Australia-New Zealand World Cup Cricket match at Eden Park.

NZ troops' Iraq role different to Australia's - PM

John Key said he had made it clear to Mr Abbott that New Zealand troops would not accompany Iraqi soldiers when they conducted operations.

He said New Zealand and Australia had different approaches in Iraq and that was one reason why they were not sending an ANZAC force.

What both countries are doing in Iraq is expected to figure prominently on their agenda today and tomorrow.

John Key has announced a 143-strong deployment to train Iraqi soldiers in Taji, north of Baghdad.

New Zealand troops are likely to work alongside Australian soldiers training the Iraqi army but not as part of an ANZAC deployment.

Mr Key said there was a good reason for that.

"In the case of Australia they aren't time limiting their time there. I think it's quite possible the Australians will be at Taji for a longer period of time than New Zealand. So I think in that regard it's sensible to have a non-badged group."

Mr Key said Australia also had a different approach in Iraq and already had about 600 military personnel there, including members of the SAS.

"If they wanted to go and accompany people if that's what the Australians ultimately decided that's their sovereign right to do that. They make that call. It's not a badged ANZAC course but New Zealand soldiers wouldn't be doing that and I've made that quite clear to Tony Abbott," he said.

Mr Abbott will hold formal meetings with Mr Key on Saturday.

As part of the visit New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop have met in Auckland, where they discussed New Zealand's imminent deployment to Iraq.

Ms Bishop would not be drawn on whether Australia would expand its deployment to Iraq.

She said regional security was at the forefront of her talks with Mr McCully. New Zealand and Australia had a very close relationship on matters of intelligence and security, and that would continue, she said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs