Minister attends security meetings in Europe

New Zealand’s contribution to global security efforts, particularly defeating ISIS in Iraq and the security of Afghanistan, was the focus of Defence Minister Ron Mark’s meetings in Rome and Brussels over the past week.

On Tuesday, the Minister attended the Defeat-ISIS Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Rome hosted by United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis and the Italian Minister of Defence, Roberta Pinotti.

Mr Mark met with other key Defence Ministers and reflected on progress in defeating ISIS, and support for the Iraqi Government and people.

“New Zealand makes a significant contribution through training the Iraqi Security Forces for stabilisation,” he said.

“A key task is to support the Iraqis to ensure the towns, cities and territories liberated from ISIS are secure and stable.”

On Wednesday Mr Mark attended a Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels, hosted by Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, along with Mr Mattis and Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.

"This meeting builds on the strong and historic cooperation between the five nations. We are the closest of partners. The relationship between our five countries is unique and is based on a foundation of cooperation."

Ministers used the meeting to discuss shared challenges to global security, and agreed to meet regularly.

New Zealand’s current contribution to the training of Afghan security forces, and our relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were the key subjects of the Minister’s meeting with NATO senior leadership in Brussels yesterday.

Mr Mark's meetings with NATO took place after the refreshed Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP) with NATO was agreed on Wednesday. The IPCP provides an over-arching umbrella for ongoing cooperation with NATO in areas of mutual benefit.

"The discussions in Rome and Brussels, along with my visits to Iraq and Afghanistan last week with Justice Minister Andrew Little and Simon O'Connor MP, will help inform the Government's consideration of the future of these missions. Hearing the perspectives of the international community, and those of the countries in which we are currently deployed, is an important step in this process," Mr Mark said.

Mr Mark also met with the Belgian Minister of Defence, Steven Vandeput, attended remembrance ceremonies, and visited Flanders battlefields to pay his respects to the New Zealand soldiers killed in World War 1.