19 Mar 2017

NZ to attend counter-IS coalition meeting

6:51 am on 19 March 2017

Foreign Minister Murray McCully will attend a meeting in Washington DC next week with the nations working together to defeat Islamic State.

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Foreign Minister Murray McCully Photo: Mei Heron

Ministers and senior officials from all 68 members of the US-led coalition have been invited to the event on 22 March.

It will be the group's first full gathering in more than two years.

Mr McCully said New Zealand was committed to supporting Iraq as it responds to the threat posed by the jihadists.

"As ISIL finds itself on the back foot in Iraq and Syria, we want to work with our coalition partners to ensure that ISIL does not find safe haven elsewhere," he said.

New Zealand and Australia were working together to help train security forces in Iraq.

The government has also contributed about $26 million since 2012 in humanitarian aid for those hit by violence in the affected regions.

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is hosting Wednesday's meeting.

In a statement, his spokesperson described the event as "a key moment to set ISIS on a lasting and irreversible path to defeat."

The gathering will accelerate efforts to oust the jihadists from the remaining areas they hold in both countries, the statement said.

The nations are set to discuss the priorities for various lines of attack, including military efforts and work to cut off finances and counter propaganda.

"The defeat of ISIL is more than a military campaign," Mr McCully said.

Ministers will also discuss the ongoing humanitarian crises in both regions.

Islamic State is facing a major offensive in Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in Iraq, and has been steadily losing ground.

Iraqi leaders said the battle was reaching its final stages.

The extremist group was also under pressure in neighbouring Syria, where three separate forces are advancing on Raqqa, the main Syrian city under their control.

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