US: NZ stands with us over Iraq

TRACY WATKINS IN WASHINGTON DC
Last updated 08:48 20/06/2014

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The United States says it knows it has New Zealand's backing for action in Iraq outlined today by President Barack Obama, and does not even have to ask.

Prime Minister John Key met US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington this morning as Obama outlined his Iraq plan, which included 300 special military advisors for the strife-torn country.

Kerry has been tasked with building international support and leaves soon for Europe and the Middle East to consult US partners and allies.

Asked at a joint press conference with Key if the US expected New Zealand's moral or practical support, Kerry suggested that was not in question.

"We know our friends, we don't have to ask, this is one where we know that New Zealand stands with us."

He also left the door open to seeking practical support from friends and partners including New Zealand, saying that was one of the issues he would be canvassing on his international mission.

Asked whether that included practical support, Kerry said: "That's part of what we need to determine which is why I'm going to be talking to our friends in Europe, Nato and Brussels."

Key told reporters the US was standing up against a terrorist threat "and is trying to protect the innocent people of Iraq and of course we support that..... 100 per cent. But I don't think anyone is talking about a reengagement of a war; the president has made that very clear."

Kerry earlier told reporters it was "not the time for a war about the war".

Meanwhile the New Zealand Government this morning announced it would give NZ$500,000 to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help people displaced by fighting in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand was "deeply concerned by the escalating violence in Iraq and the displacement of civilians".

"An estimated 500,000 people have been forced from their homes in recent days due to advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."

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