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Brownlee returns to Iraq

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has revealed his third visit to New Zealand Defence Force troops training Iraqi forces near Baghdad, with hints New Zealand's role there could expand.

Mr Brownlee and Chief of Defence Lieutenant-General Tim Keating touched down in Dubai on Wednesday morning after visiting Camp Taji, near the Iraqi capital, he said in a statement.

He received briefings at coalition headquarters in Baghdad from senior members of the counter-Daesh coalition, including New Zealand's Brigadier Hugh McAslan.

Mr Brownlee also met with Iraq's President Fuad Masum.

About 100 New Zealand soldiers, and 300 Australians, have been in Iraq since May 2015 in what was initially meant to be a two-year mission based solely at Camp Taji.

It has now been extended out to November 2018 and the soldiers are now travelling to other parts of Iraq to train the locals.

According to the New Zealand Herald, who had a reporter accompany Mr Brownlee, the minister hinted at New Zealand's role extending beyond training into intelligence and a New Zealand role in reconstruction in the war-torn country.

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