The Iraqi Government has asked for New Zealand's help to fight the Islamic State by describing the battle as World War III because it is affecting citizens in all countries.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'afari did not specifically invite New Zealand to train Iraqi troops in a meeting with Foreign Minister Murray McCully in Auckland today, but issued a general invitation to the international community for support.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Dr al-Ja'afari made it clear that Iraq was looking for assistance in the form of training, logistics, reconstruction and capacity-building.

"They are looking for support and assistance from countries, not only those that are inside the formal coalition, which we are, but also some countries outside it," he said.


In a press conference, Dr al-Ja'afari described the battle against Isis as a global war because it had spread beyond Iraq's borders.

"The goals of IS are globalised, they target markets, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches in every country," he said, using a translator.

New Zealand has still not officially confirmed a deployment to Iraq, but it already has troops training for any deployment and a team of military in Iraq scoping out what role New Zealand could play and assessing factors such as safety. Prime Minister John Key has repeatedly said Government would not commit to any combat role.

Dr al-Ja'afari said if New Zealand sent troops to the region for training purposes, the Iraqi Army would provide protection for them.

This appeared to contradict the New Zealand Government's plans for the New Zealand Defence Force to provide protection. Mr McCully insisted yesterday that this would still be the case.

Dr al-Ja'afari also conceded that there was a level of corruption within the Iraqi armed forces, "but this does not mean that there aren't courageous Iraqi soldiers and officers to fight and sacrifice themselves".

The Iraqi Foreign Minister also met with Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little and shadow foreign affairs minister David Shearer today.

Mr Shearer said that apart from a request for air cover - which New Zealand could not provide - the minister did not put pressure on New Zealand to contribute military assistance.


The pressure to make a military commitment appeared to be coming from "the club" - USA, Canada, and Australia - and not Iraq.

Mr Shearer said he was still not convinced that New Zealand providing military trainers would make any difference, and he was concerned about the potential for "mission creep".

"It's certainly going to put a number of people in harm's way. The Canadians, who went in there only to train, have been involved in firefights already. So inevitably we will be pulled into a bigger conflict if we are there."