Abbott won't rule out expanding Middle East effort

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has not ruled out expanding the nation's commitment in the war against Islamic State, saying troops are fighting in the Middle East to stop the fight coming to Australia.

"I certainly do not rule out doing what we reasonably can to make the world a safer place," Mr Abbott said.

Mr Abbott said Australian troops were not in the region because the nation was looking for a fight overseas.

"Our military forces in the Middle East are protecting our interests at home as much as they are protecting our interests and our values abroad.

"I look forward to continuing to talk to the Iraqis, to the Americans, to our partners in the Gulf about what we can usefully do as a nation and as a coalition partner to make the world a safer place and to make Australia a safer country."

Mr Abbott said Australians and Iraqis were safer because of the nation's military commitment to the region.

He said there were 400 personnel supporting Australian air operations in the region.

"Because of what we are doing on the land and in the skies, the Iraqi security forces are being more effective, the Iraqi people are somewhat safer than they were and Australians back home are safer," he said.

"All of this is designed to defeat the Daesh death cult which has declared war on the world, including us in Australia."

Mr Abbott met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as part of his surprise visit to the region.


Topics:  australia defence force islamic state terrorism tony abbott

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