Nato has asked New Zealand to join its new training mission in Iraq.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels this morning (NZT), discussing security issues in the Asia-Pacific and areas of cooperation such as maritime security, cybersecurity, and the fight against international terrorism.

At a joint press conference, Stoltenberg said Nato had launched a new training mission in Iraq: "We will of course welcome contributions from New Zealand to that training mission."

Speaking to media after the conference, Ardern said she did not give him any commitment and would need to discuss the idea with Cabinet colleagues.


But she noted that the NZ Defence Force already had a presence in Iraq, training forces as part of the Global Coalition to defeat Isis.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference with Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Supplied
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference with Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Supplied

The Defence Force planned to scale back that mission at the end of last year from 143 to 121 staff.

The Government will review the deployment again early this year.

New Zealand continues to have a small presence in Afghanistan to help train Afghan army officers, and the Government plans to reassess that presence this year.

"In Afghanistan we know with the individuals that we have there now, which roughly total 11, that we have high quality individuals providing an incredibly important role as part of a wider team," Ardern said at the joint press conference.

Stoltenberg said Nato had a close partnership with New Zealand, and said New Zealand's contribution in Afghanistan was "high quality".

"We highly value the contribution from New Zealand. The personnel from New Zealand are very committed. They are playing a key role in helping to educate and to build a national defence academy."

He said building domestic capacity was the best way to prevent terrorist groups from gaining traction in Afghanistan, but he noted that the current peace negotiations with the Taliban could see an agreement that could affect Nato's presence there.


Stoltenberg said Nato benefited from New Zealand's insights into the Asia-Pacific region, where Nato does not have a presence but is keeping a close watch on China's influence, particularly as China has been building intermediate-range nuclear missile capacity.

He also praised New Zealand's contribution to joint maritime efforts to tackle piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Ardern said modern security threats were global in nature and impact.

"We will continue to make the case for collective action because the case for it has never been clearer."

She said New Zealand and Nato shared common values of democracy, human rights, the protection of fundamental freedoms and the need to uphold a rules-based international order.

It was Ardern's first visit to Nato headquarters and her last stop on her European trip, which included a visit to London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May, a few days at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and meetings with the leaders of the EU to promote a free trade deal with New Zealand.