New Zealand’s defence chief joined other foreign military heads in a meeting of defence chiefs with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. According to reports, New Zealand has not yet decided to join the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Lieutenant General Tim Keating travelled to the U.S. to attend the summit about ISIS and the details surrounding the U.S.-led attacks in Iraq and Syria. The top level security meeting was downplayed by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and said it was a “regular one.”
Mr Key said to the meeting with Mr Obama that they can help the New Zealand government to decide on a possible course of action against ISIS. He is expected to discuss with the country’s Chief of Defence when he returns. He reiterated that the defence chief’s attendance in the U.S. does not mean New Zealand has decided to join the fight against ISIS.
Mr Obama has told military commanders that he is deeply concerned by advancing ISIS militants in the Syrian city of Kobane. According to the Washington correspondent of Radio New Zealand, the meeting was not a regular one since both the Head of Central Command and the U.S. President are present. She said that she was told by the U.S. Department of Defence that the meeting would be an opportunity to talk about an integrated strategy to beat ISIS. The meeting was held at the Andrews Airforce Base, one of the largest bases in the U.S.
The Defence Force revealed that military leaders from various countries do not meet regularly and admitted that it was not just a “normal” meeting. It was the first time a meeting with high-ranking military officials from different countries was conducted after a coalition was formed to fight the extremist group.
Security analyst Paul Buchanan said that the presence of New Zealand’s defence chief in the meeting with Mr Obama strongly suggests that the country will join the campaign against ISIS. He said if it was only a negotiation for a possible role, a diplomat would have been sent instead. Since the head of New Zealand’s military forces was sent to the meeting, it may mean the government has “already agreed to some role.”
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