Camp Taji, Iraq: During a brief, unannounced visit to Australian troops in Iraq, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on European countries to "step up" with stronger help to defeat Islamic State.
Speaking to several hundred Australian and Kiwi soldiers at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, Mr Turnbull also flagged possible further Australian contributions in future but stressed that the military commitment would not last forever.
Turnbull meets diggers in Iraq
Stopping over on his way to Washington, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stopped to thank Australian soldiers for their service, and reiterate his support for their efforts. Vision courtesy ABC News 24.
"We're encouraging other countries, particularly other European countries, NATO countries, to step up and make a greater contribution, too," he said.
Australia has about 300 troops training the Iraqi army at Taji base as well as an air taskforce including six Hornet fighter jets and about 80 elite special force soldiers helping direct Iraqi combat operations from various bases.
Mr Turnbull said that Australia's contribution to Iraq remained the second-largest after the US, though Italy could surpass Australia if its most recent pledges were fulfilled.
Many European countries have had relatively modest contributions in Iraq and Syria, though some have started to step up their roles gradually.
"What further commitments we were to make would depend on the circumstances. But we do not intend to be in Iraq forever," Mr Turnbull said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Turnbull met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad and also paid a visit to the special forces soldiers there.
Mr Turnbull said his counterpart in Baghdad was "so appreciative" of the Australian help and that of New Zealand, which has about 100 troops working alongside the Diggers at Taji base in the training role.
But he stressed that Mr al-Abadi had not asked for any additional help from Australia.
"The Iraqi government did not ask us to do anything extra, although we had a very constructive discussion with the prime minister today," he said.
He added that "the nature of our commitment may evolve over time - will undoubtedly evolve over time".
Mr Turnbull spent about 90 minutes on the ground at Taji, speaking to troops and receiving briefings from commanders on the training mission.
He thanked profusely the Australian and New Zealand troops for their work, saying that ultimately it would be the Iraqi army they were helping to rebuild that would defeat the brutal Islamic State group. The militant group still holds the country's second-largest city, Mosul, but recently suffered a key defeat at the hands of the Iraqi army in Ramadi, west of the capital.
"I want to thank you all for the work you are doing. You are so admired ... We so admire your professionalism, your commitment, your courage, your determination to get the job done. I want to relay to you today the great thanks from the Iraqi government," Mr Turnbull said.
He said the Anzac forces were "making a vital different in defeating Daesh, to rolling them back".
Daesh is an alternative name for Islamic State, or IS.
"And that will be so important not just for Iraq but for the whole world," Mr Turnbull added. "Because the biggest single marketing point that Daesh has ... is the appearance of invincibility, the appearance that they are rolling on to one victory after another.
"And standing them up, pushing them back, turning them around, this is critical not just here in Iraq, but in the ... global campaign against terrorism. So the work that you are doing is so important ... What you are doing is having a global impact. It's making the world safe, it's making our homes in Australia and New Zealand safer."
He said world leaders, including Mr Abadi, agreed that Iraqis needed to win back their own country.
IS was exploiting the deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and across the Middle East, he said. Therefore, these needed to be healed before Iraq and particularly Syria could find peace and stability.
"The most important boots on the ground are Iraqi boots," Mr Turnbull said. "On the ground, they have win back their own country. They have to reach the political settlement and reconciliation with their own people."
Mr Turnbull will go on to Washington, where he will meet with US President Barack Obama for talks, at which national security is expected to be a dominant issue.
He is expected to stress the need for a clearer articulation of where the coalition strategy is headed over the longer term.