Gerry Brownlee heads to anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Belgium
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says a meeting of the international anti-Islamic State coalition will shape the fight against the terrorist group over the next year.
Brownlee and Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating are heading to Belgium for a meeting on Wednesday with representatives from the 60 states which make up the anti-IS coalition.
The meeting comes as the United States has put pressure on countries in the coalition to provide more assistance in the fight against IS.
Brownlee said ministers would discuss a range of regional and international security issues, including their respective responses to the fight against IS and how the campaign would evolve over the next year.
"I am looking forward to talking with fellow defence ministers about our shared approach to defeating this barbaric organisation, ensuring the safety of New Zealanders at home and abroad," Brownlee said.
American officials are planning to highlight the need to increase the number of Western military trainers in Iraq at the Brussels meeting, the AFP reported.
Speaking to the US Senate Armed Services Committee in December, American defence secretary Ash Carter said he had personally contacted 40 nations to encourage them to do more to fight IS in Iraq and Syria.
"We all — let me repeat that — we all must do more."
Brownlee said at the time the Government would take its time to make a decision on providing more support, citing New Zealand's "pretty significant contribution" to date in a two-year, $65 million deployment of Kiwi trainers at Camp Taji.
Prime Minister John Key also said in December New Zealand would not "necessarily" send more troops overseas.
"We've got a great relationship with the United States. I think they're just saying that as countries get involved they are trying to consider what their next step should be and what that capability should look like.
"That actually makes sense if you're Ash Carter, but that doesn't necessarily mean New Zealand should respond with further resources," he said.
Committing more troops would be a "very big call", Key said.