New Zealanders in Iraq

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon has said he would not advise New Zealanders to travel to Iraq at the present given the situation in the north.

While New Zealand has no direct interests in Northern Iraq we are naturally concerned about any unrest in the region and will be monitoring events in the Gulf very closely.

As far as we are aware there are no New Zealanders in the area, which is not a high priority destination for New Zealand tourists anyway.

Defence Minister Paul East says there are currently ten New Zealand Defence Force personnel working for the United Nations Special Commission on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction based in Bagdad.

They will be guided by their parent organisation as to their movements in the coming days, he said.

Meanwhile the frigate HMNZS Canterbury is currently based in Singapore and will leave for the Gulf, as per its schedule, at the end of the week.

It will be joining the Multinational Interception Force to help enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Its deployment to the Gulf is not affected at this stage which in any event is about 900 kilometres away from the trouble zone in Northern Iraq, Mr East said.