20 Oct 2014

NZ troops could train Iraqis - PM

5:57 pm on 20 October 2014

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed training Iraqi troops is one of the options being considered in helping in the fight against Islamic State (IS) insurgents.

John Key at today's media standup.

John Key at today's media standup. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Mr Key said he had not yet looked at all the advice or received a briefing following last week's meeting of military chiefs in Washington, which was addressed by American president Barack Obama.

"Training is definitely a potential option that we might consider," he said.

"That's ultimately what Barack Obama has been saying, is that they want to see the Iraqi national forces developed so that they can defend their own country."

Mr Key said no decision had been made on whether to offer that sort of help.

He repeated his comments that being directly involved in fighting Islamic State was at the outer limits of what the Government would consider.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesperson, David Shearer, said it was opposed to sending troops to

Iraq, even in a training role.

"I'm not convinced that we need to send troops but we need to wait until we see the outcome of the analysis the Government's going to provide," Mr Shearer said.

"At the moment I believe that we're in a situation where the complexity of the situation and the uncertain objectives of any mission is very much in the air, and I wouldn't want to see troops go on the ground under those sorts of circumstances."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said he opposed to New Zealand training of Iraqi troops.

"Not at this stage. It's a slippery slope, obviously. The SAS (Special Air Service) in Afghanistan was supposed to be just training but they ended up getting frontline combat roles and, of course, some of them got killed over there.

"So we shouldn't underestimate what this involves."

The Greens and Labour will both be briefed on the military options available to the Government.

Australia has sent SAS soldiers to train Iraqi forces.

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