NZ wouldn’t have an issue with US drone strikes against terrorists in Iraq — Key

John Key on Q+A

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The Prime Minister John Key told TV1’s Q+A programme that he would not have an issue if the US went ahead with drone strikes on the terrorist group ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq.

“We've effectively designated them to be a terrorist, and secondly because the only way they'd go in there would be at the invitation of the Iraqi government and in fact the Iraqi government have been calling on the Americans to do that," Mr Key said.

“ISIL who are the terrorist group who are really fighting the Iraqi government at the moment, they have been designated by New Zealand as a terrorist group.  So think about it in these terms — I mean if there was for instance a drone strike in Iraq I don’t think the Americans would come to us and say New Zealand do you offer your moral support.

“I guess my point is we're more than likely to be silent on the issue because we won’t be asked to necessarily offer a view, any more than we are asked to offer a view in Yemen, and that’s on-going, when we've been pitching for the Security Council seat.  The one point I would say is I wouldn’t guarantee that there’ll be air strikes, or that there’ll be drone strikes.  I can't rule that out obviously, but what I do know is that the President is seeing emerging before his eyes what looks a little bit like a civil war.  

"Now if you take ISIL out of it, it's still a conflict based on religious tensions and on the exclusion of the Sunnis, and in the end I think what the Americans really want to see happen is the Iraqis take control of that situation.  That’s really why Kerry's going to speak to the leaders in the region.  That’s why he'll go and speak to Iraqi and the government.  I think in the end the message is quite blunt one, it's really you need to form a more inclusive government, or this civil war will take place.  And if that civil war takes place that’s not something America wants to pick sides on.”

The Prime Minister also said he’s confident President Obama will eventually get fast track approval from Congress for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will need to be ratified by the Senate (at times a querulous about trade agreements as state representatives defend local interests).

Mr Key said he wants Japan to stay in the talks, but won’t accept a deal that doesn’t bring significant economic benefits to NZ agriculture.

“What New Zealand wants to see is a high quality, comprehensive deal including all 12 partners.  But our point is, if Japan got to a point where they said well there’ll be no liberalisation of agriculture for instance, we would say what would be the point of New Zealand being in part of that deal.  And actually when Japan came in with Canada and with Mexico, it was made absolutely crystal clear to them, that they had to sign up to the Honolulu principles which were high level, comprehensive deal.  You imagine if I was in the position where I had to go to the New Zealand public and say, there will be some changes around intellectual properties or SOEs, or other aspects that New Zealanders will have an interest in, but by the way we get no economic gains out of agriculture, I just don’t think that would fly in New Zealand.”

Watch the full interview here.

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