New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

Iraq troops set to dominate talks across the ditch

A NEW joint Australia-New Zealand troop deployment to Iraq is expected to be top of the agenda during talks between Prime Minister Abbott and his Kiwi count-erpart this weekend.

Mr Abbott left yesterday for Auckland on his first official trip to New Zealand to meet Prime Minister John Key for two days of meetings and functions.

Formal talks today between the two leaders are expected to centre on a potential joint troop deployment to Iraq, in the coalition against Daesh, the new term for the IS rebels.

While Mr Key announced a NZ deployment of about 140 troops this week, Mr Abbott has signalled Cabinet would need to approve any Australian contribution.

The subject of Australian troops in Iraq has been a sensitive one for Mr Abbott, after reports last week indicated he had suggested to military leaders a ground deployment of 3500 troops to Iraq. However, military chiefs and Mr Abbott have since hosed down the suggestion, claiming the report was inaccurate.

Joined by his wife Margie, who was born in New Zealand, Mr Abbott and Mr Key were expected to attend today's Australia-New Zealand Cricket World Cup match at Eden Park in Auckland.

As both nations prepare for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, Mr Abbott also laid a wreath at the Auckland War Memorial Museum yesterday.