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Self-defense agreement opens way for New Zealand troop deployment in Iraq

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-03-31 13:34

WELLINGTON -- The New Zealand government has reached an agreement with Iraq to give New Zealand troops the right to defend themselves during deployment there, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said Tuesday.

The agreement opens the way for New Zealand to send up to 143 personnel to Iraq to help train Iraqi troops in the fight against Islamic State insurgents.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully traveled to Iraq last week to finalize the deal but the details would not be made public, Brownlee told Radio New Zealand.

"We have notes between countries that give us the protections we were looking for for our soldiers," said Brownlee.

He also said that about 40 or 50 New Zealand troops were already in Australia for training for the deployment, which would be part of an Australian-run operation based at an airbase north of Baghdad.

"We have good relations with the Australians, but where you've got to have interoperability on a mission like this, it pays to have a little bit of time as you go through the exercise of working out what that mission is going to look like," he said.

New Zealand troops are expected in Iraq in May.

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