Brownlee visits Kiwi troops in Egypt, Israel

Gerry Brownlee on his most recent visit to Iraq (NZ Defence Force)
Gerry Brownlee on his most recent visit to Iraq (NZ Defence Force)

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has visited Kiwi troops in Egypt for the first time en route to a counter-Islamic State meeting in Germany.

Mr Brownlee also toured Golan Heights in Israel on his way to Stuttgart. 

There are 27 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) soldiers based at South Camp on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, the country's longest-running peacekeeping deployment. The NZDF has had a presence there since 1982.

"Visiting the Sinai provided a great opportunity to talk with Multinational Force and Observers leadership and our 27-strong Kiwi contingent, who form part of the deployment that for the past 34 years has maintained peace between Israel and Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula," Mr Brownlee says.

He says the troops are doing an excellent job in their roles as drivers, trainers and key operational planning personnel.

Mr Brownlee also met with Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi.

In Israel, Mr Brownlee met with Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who said New Zealand's contribution was appreciated.

He also met former New Zealand Army Chief Major General David Gawn, who is now head of mission and chief of staff to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in Golan Heights. There Mr Brownlee received a briefing on the region's security situation.

There are eight NZDF personnel in the UNTSO based in Israel, Jerusalem and southern Lebanon.

Mr Brownlee's visit follows a secret trip with Labour leader Andrew Little and Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee chair Mark Mitchell to visit Kiwi troops based in Camp Taji in Iraq, tasked with training the country's army.

The Defence Minister will return to New Zealand following the Stuttgart meeting.