No sudden decisions on Australians in Iraq

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The defence minister says Australia won’t be making any sudden decisions on withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“We’re monitoring the situation to see what happens over the next couple of days,” Linda Reynolds told the ABC on Thursday.

Australian soldiers and diplomats have been caught in the crosshairs of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

Iran on Wednesday launched more than a dozen missiles against two US-led military bases in Iraq, in response to the US assassination of an Iranian military chief.

Australian troops close to the attacked Al-Assad base were confirmed safe, with another 300 diggers further north unaffected by the rocket strikes.

Australia also has a team of diplomats housed at an embassy in Baghdad.

Cabinet’s national security committee will meet in Canberra on Thursday to discuss the unfolding situation.

“We are all working very hard to ensure all parties exercise restraint and de-escalation,” Senator Reynolds said.

Australia has not ruled out following the United States in imposing further economic sanctions on Iran.

“Australia constantly reviews our sanctions regime. We have a number of relevant sanctions in place. We are closely monitoring the events,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the ABC.

Senator Payne said it was important for Australia to have a presence in the Middle East to help with the fight against Islamic State.

“We have a long term interest in the efforts we’ve been making with the coalition in Iraq,” she said.

“It takes constant vigilance to work against extreme terrorist organisations.”

The minister also holds concerns for Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert who has been imprisoned for an unrelated matter in Iran.

Defence chief Angus Campbell has been told to do whatever it takes to keep Australians safe and has not ruled out withdrawing troops.

Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, who is advising the government on its policy response, admits the situation in Iraq is concerning.

“At this stage we’ve been contingency planning, as you always do, it’s just common sense, and we’re preparing those plans for a raft of different circumstances which I won’t discuss here,” he told reporters.

US President Donald Trump has announced further economic sanctions against Iran in response to the reprisal attack, rather than a military retaliation.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury is concerned about the potential impact on petrol prices, with the conflict expected to squeeze global oil supplies.

“The US markets are worrying – prices jumped almost immediately by four per cent – if that’s an indication of what’s to come, it’s very concerning,” Mr Khoury told AAP.

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