Prime Minister John Key said he was not aware that US President Barack Obama had planned to address military chiefs from various countries - including New Zealand - at Andrews Air Force Base to near Washington DC about defeating Islamic State.
Mr Key said he had been assured by the Defence Force it was just a "regular meeting" although virtually every news outlet in Washington is billing it as a meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating is one of more than 20 military chiefs at the meeting.
New Zealand has so far committed only humanitarian aid and is yet to decide if the Defence Force will make a contribution.
Mr Key told reporters in Wellington this morning he had found out about the meeting last week or the week before.
"It is a regular meeting the CDF always goes to."
"It's true that one of the topics of conversation will be what contributions countries might make although that is not the purpose of the meeting as I understand it."
He said he wanted General Keating to have discussions there that would help to inform the cabinet's decision on what contribution New Zealand would make that would be useful.
It was easy for people to jump to conclusions and think that New Zealand's contribution would take one particular form - combat troops.
"But as I have said there is a big spectrum and a big ranger here where a contribution might be made."
"It is part of the overall process we are going to go through of going through a fact finding mission of having information presented to the Government so the Government can make a decision about what contribution, if any, we make and if we make one, what area it might be taken."
Reuters reported President Obama as saying the fight against ISIS "is going to be a long campaign".
He said the focus at this point was on the fighting in Anbar province but also said "we're deeply concerned about the situation in and around the Syrian town of Kobani which underscores the threat that ISIL poses in both Iraq and Syria".
US troops had battled hard to secure Anbar against al-Qaeda militants during the Iraq war, Reuters reported, but it was not at risk of being taken over by ISIS.
"Coalition air strikes will continue in both these areas," Mr Obama said.
The White House said representatives from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Britain Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States attended the closed meetings.