Australia's Turnbull Urges Larger Nations to Bolster ISIL Fight

  • Prime Minister delivers first U.S. speech ahead of Obama meet
  • Victory in Mideast must be `won and owned' by Iraqis, Syrians

Malcolm Turnbull used his first speech in the U.S. as Australia’s prime minister to urge large nations to commit more resources to the fight against Islamic State in the Middle East.

“Other nations with larger economies, larger defense forces and closer to the theater are beginning to step up their commitments, as they should,” Turnbull, 61, said in Washington on Monday.

Australia last week turned down a U.S. request to boost its military commitment in the Middle East, as it already makes the second-largest contribution to the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Turnbull, who is in Washington for talks with President Barack Obama to reaffirm economic and security ties with Australia’s biggest ally, said victory against the terrorist group must be “won and owned by the people of Iraq and Syria”.

QuickTake Fighting Islamic State

“The destruction of ISIL requires military action including boots on the ground, but they must be the right boots on the right ground,” he said.

Australia in 2014 deployed 400 air-force personnel and 200 special forces soldiers based in Iraq to join the coalition against Islamic State. A further 300 soldiers left in April 2015 to help train Iraqi troops based at Taji, northwest of Baghdad.

Turnbull also used his speech to urge China, Australia’s largest trading partner, to refrain from further militarizing the South China Sea through construction of defense facilities on reclaimed islands.

The prime minister spoke about the situation in the Middle East and the need to collaborate on security issues in the Asia-Pacific with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter earlier on Monday. Turnbull is due to hold talks later Monday with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew before meeting with Obama on Tuesday.

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