Australia could join New Zealand in sending more troops to Iraq: reports

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CANBERRA. KAZINFORM - Australia is set to send more troops to Iraq to join the fight against Islamic State (IS), according to local media reports on Wednesday.

Although foreign minister Julie Bishop refused to confirm speculation that Australia would send additional troops overseas, she did reveal that Australia's presence in Iraq was "under review". Australia currently has around 200 special forces personnel overseas in the fight against IS, but may join with New Zealand to send more troops to the country in an effort to help train local Iraqi soldiers. The reports followed comments from New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, who on Tuesday announced that his country would send an additional 143 troops to Iraq. "This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia, although it won't be badged on ANZAC force," Key told parliament. However, despite Key's suggestions, Bishop remained tightlipped on the issue. "We have had our presence in Iraq under constant review to ensure that we're achieving the best outcomes," she told Sky News Australia on Wednesday. "This is a matter for the Prime Minister to announce." Australia's defence minister, Kevin Andrews, was also quick to deny speculation that the government had made a confirmed decision on sending more troops to Iraq. However, he did welcome New Zealand's announcement, with Australia's neighbors to begin deploying troops in May. "Australia continues to talk to Iraq, the U.S. and our other partners about what we can do to support the Iraqi government," a spokesperson for Andrews told the ABC on Wednesday. "No decisions have been taken by the government to deploy additional personnel." Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is set to fly to New Zealand to meet with Key on Friday for his first official visit to the country. Source: Xinhua

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