Andrew Little would withdraw troops from Iraq

(Newshub. / file)
(Newshub. / file)

New Zealand troops will be pulled out of Iraq if Labour leader Andrew Little is elected Prime Minister next year.  

The Government announced on Monday it'll keep New Zealand troops in Iraq until the end of 2018 -- a year and a half longer than they were supposed to be there.

But in between now and then, there's an election. 

Mr Little says he would be happy to send in New Zealand soldiers as part of a United Nations-sanctioned peacekeeping mission if we were called on, but he doesn't want them training Iraqi soldiers at Camp Taji. 

"We are left propping up the Iraqi army when that's not very effective. I wouldn't leave our troops there to do that," he says.

But Mr Little won't rule out sending troops back in in another capacity. 

 "The reality is I don't know what the situation is going to be there," he says. 

"It may well be that by that time, Iraq will be in full-scale civil war."

In that case, Mr Little says there'd likely then be a UN sanctioned peacekeeping operation, and he'd be happy for New Zealand soldiers to be part of that. 

"If that's the case and there's a peacekeeping operation required we may well have a role to play there, but who can predict what's going to happen," he says. 

Mr Little's move now makes the Iraq war a major election issue -- a vote for National will keep our troops there, while a vote for Labour will get them out.