The West

Abbott vows to consult before war

Tony Abbott has confirmed the Government is talking to Washington about what Australia could contribute to a military mission in Iraq but has promised to consult the people and Opposition before deciding to go to war.

The talks come amid suggestions the Government could send F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters or special forces to support a US-led mission to confront Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

_The West Australian _understands Defence Minister David Johnston spoke to US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel about Iraq yesterday.

There have been no specific requests for Australian military assets and any decision on what Australia's involvement will be could be at least a week away.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday.

The Prime Minister has been strident in his language to suggest Australia is keen to take part in action in Iraq. Ms Bishop has been more cautious. Asked about the potential for involvement, she seemed to suggest the emphasis would be on humanitarian aid.

Ms Bishop dismissed claims some in the Government believed the US had been too slow to confront the threat of IS.

"We welcome US leadership in combating this terrible phenomenon of foreign fighters as well as this particularly virulent and barbaric form of extremism we see with (IS)," she said.

In a speech today, ASIO director-general David Irvine will warn again of the many Australians going to Iraq and Syria to fight. He will say the conflicts there have added "energy and allure" to the extremist Islamic narrative.

The Government has said of its promised $600 million counter-terrorism package, almost $14 million will be spent on community engagement aimed at preventing young Australians from becoming involved in extremism.

More than $32 million will be used for a task force to disrupt and investigate Australians going overseas to fight.

The West Australian

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