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National: Statement on unfolding events in Iraq

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, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee say.

“We do not want to cut and run unduly, leaving others to shoulder our responsibilities,” Mr Mitchell says.

“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.

“There needs to be strong contingency plans in place to get our people out of the country if the Iraqi government loses control of the situation.”

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

“We share the Government’s concern over the recent escalation of hostilities. Now is the time for cool heads.

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

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