28 Sep 2015

Key hopes for unified response on IS

5:32 am on 28 September 2015

Prime Minister John Key hopes a meeting of world leaders in New York this week will lead to a unified international response to Islamic State.

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John Key Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

US President Barack Obama has called an international summit on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

It will be attended by leaders of up to 60 countries which form a coalition committed to fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, including New Zealand which sent training troops to Taji in May.

Mr Key said it was time for the international community to speak with one voice on the issue.

"Countries are rightfully so committed, because over 60 of them have some sort of engagement with what's happening in Iraq and Syria and they're certainly very concerned about it."

"The world is dealing with the outpouring of Syrian refugees, a great many of whom are leaving because they are being persecuted by ISIL."

"Certainly I hope that they will get to a point where we will make some more decisions and provide a unified front to what happens next," Mr Key said.

However Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee does not expect New Zealand to boost its own involvement in the fight against IS.

"Most of us are doing things in our own countries to protect our own borders."

Mr Brownlee said there were no New Zealand troops on the ground in Iraq and he would not expect that to change anytime soon.

Labour Party foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer said the temperature had increased in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, and this made the work of the UN, and in achieving a united front, even more important.

David Shearer

David Shearer Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

For example, Mr Shearer said, the US was targeting IS in Syria and the Russians were supporting President al-Assad against IS.

"So they are sort of with the same objective but coming from two very different directions."

He said New Zealand could might be able to help broker some sort of deal between the two parties.

The Greens' global affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham said the UN should cordon off the fighting area and start engaging in peace-building in Iraq and Syria.

He said the answer was not to create two new IS recruits for every bomb dropped by western and Gulf militaries.

Mr Key last attended the UN leaders' week in 2013 and this is his first time since New Zealand was elected to the Security Council.

He will deliver New Zealand's statement in the general debate on 1 October.

Mr Key will also hold a number of formal and informal meetings at the UN.