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No extension for Iraq training mission

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/05/2016
A US soldier trains an Iraqi security forces member in a shooting drill in Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq, 21 March 2015: A US-led coalition is training local forces in Iraq © AP A US-led coalition is training local forces in Iraq

The Prime Minister is lukewarm to extending the deployment of Kiwi troops in Iraq for more than two years.

New Zealand has 143 troops in Iraq since May 2015, helping Australin troops train Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State.

As part of Task Group Taji, the soldiers' deployment was set down for two years.

Labour leader Andrew Little visited Camp Taji last week and said he did not think the New Zealand mission would be achieved in that time frame, due to Iraq's "complicated needs".

John Key told TV3's Paul Henry show on Monday he did not think Kiwi troops should stay in Iraq long-term.

"I don't think New Zealand should be on this deployment forever.

"My general thinking is that two years is good enough," he said.

A Ministry of Defence review of the operation after nine months said "the training is having a tangible and positive impact on the ability of the Iraqi Army units to take the fight to ISIL/Daesh".

It recommended the deployment should continue until May 2017.

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