Iran missile attacks: National wants to keep New Zealand troops in Iraq

The National Party says New Zealand troops stationed in Iraq should not "cut and run", advising the Government to keep troops on the ground.

On Wednesday, Iran launched its retaliation for the US-orchestrated killing of top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. More than a dozen missiles were fired at two military bases in Iraq, the complexes known to house both US and Iraqi troops. 

Earlier reports suggested that the missiles also hit Camp Taji, where New Zealand troops are stationed. This was later proved incorrect, with Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters confirming all troops are "as safe as they can be". 

National's Mark Mitchell, spokesperson for defence, and Gerry Brownlee, spokesperson for foreign affairs, issued a statement regarding the unfolding events in Iraq, suggesting that New Zealand "should emulate our friends Britain and Australia" by "keeping troops on the ground in Iraq".

"But with contingency plans to move them quickly if required," they added.

"We do not want to cut and run unduly, leaving others to shoulder our responsibilities," Mitchell said in the joint statement.

Gerry Brownlee.
Gerry Brownlee. Photo credit: File

"We have a proud history of operating in the Middle East to keep the peace and it's important that we are not distracted from our continued efforts to stabilise Iraq. 

"We would expect the Iraqi government to take all steps necessary to control the security situation and ensure all coalition bases are protected from attack."

Mark Mitchell.
Mark Mitchell. Photo credit: File

Mitchell reiterated that "strong contingency plans" are required to ensure New Zealand troops can be safely removed from Iraq if the government "loses control of the situation".

Brownlee said the Opposition was briefed by the Government on the situation in Iraq earlier this week.

"Now is the time for cool heads," Brownlee advised.

"We would urge all parties to move forward with meaningful dialogue rather than tit-for-tat retaliation." 

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