Any New Zealand commitment of military assistance to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq should not make New Zealand more of a target for terrorism, Prime Minister John Key says.

With his Government officially sworn in today, Mr Key is now in a position to consider any formal request from the US for assistance against Islamic State which is now poised to capture the strategic Syrian town of Kobani on the border with Turkey.

Mr Key has said his preference is to decide what assistance New Zealand would offer before an formal request is made and expects his Government will make that call some time next month.

If New Zealand did commit SAS forces or other ground forces - something he would not rule out today - he did not believe that would create new dangers for this country.


"Generally the advice I've seen is that it's not likely to significantly change the risk profile", he told reporters after his new executive was sworn in at Government House today.

The risks would be "no greater than I think the risks are currently here today".

However he indicated that any potential for increased risk would not deter him from deciding to commit military forces.

"If you weren't prepared to do anything solely on the basis of that (increased risk) then you actually start losing your independent foreign policy because by definition you're saying that the actions of terrorists will stop you standing up to those terrorists and I think that's a dilution of responsibility that New Zealanders wouldn't want to take."

Any actions New Zealand might or might not take would be considered carefully and cautiously, "but I don't think (Islamic State) should be determining the strategies and policies that New Zealand took".