WorldNew Zealand troops to pull out of Iraq
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New Zealand will withdraw its troops from Iraq over the next year and do so "alongside of Australia", its defence minister says.
Since 2015, New Zealand has deployed personnel alongside Australian forces to train Iraqi soldiers at camp Taji, north of Baghdad, with 95 Kiwis currently there.
Its government on Monday afternoon announced the nation's contribution to the mission would be ending over the next year, with its troops to be gradually withdrawn by June, 2020.
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"The goal of any training mission is to ensure that it becomes a sustainable program," Defence Minister Ron Mark said.
"Significant progress has been made in this area, which will allow the mission to reduce in numbers and conclude within the next year."
But Mark added New Zealand's withdrawal was not unilateral.
"Now it's about mentoring and training trainers and then, alongside of Australia, exiting and having an exit plan. It's not just New Zealand that's downsizing here," he told reporters.
"We will be downsizing alongside of them, working with them, not just walking away from the mission."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added" "I think their deployment has changed but it's not for me to ultimately put a date on their decision".
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She said she had discussed New Zealand's withdrawal with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The Australian government has also been considering the future of Task Group Taji, amid speculation a ninth rotation of trainers, deployed in June, may be the last.
But it has not made any formal announcement.
There are about 300 Australian Defence Force personnel at the camp.
Kiwi and Australian soldiers have together trained about 44,000 Iraqi troops to fight Islamic State at the camp since their mission began.
Iraq's government declared victory over the militant group in 2017.
New Zealand's government on Monday also announced it would be extending its mission in Afghanistan, although reducing its personnel from 13 to 11 and changing the nature of its work.
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