Tony Abbott won't rule out military action in Iraq

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has pledged that Australia "should do what we can to protect people from potential genocide", refusing to rule out military action in Iraq against the Islamic State.

Mr Abbott in London yesterday spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama about a potential military intervention in northern Iraq.

While he has not yet decided to send troops or help with other military assets, Mr Abbott has already sent humanitarian missions to provide aid to minority religious Yazidi people trapped on a mountain in the Middle East country.

President Obama has previously labelled the situation a potential genocide, with the US last week starting a series of air strikes in the region on ISIL targets.

Mr Abbott said he also did not rule out military action in helping the US and UK, and he was already talking widely with "our security partners about what we can usefully do to help".

"What I want to stress is that this is a humanitarian cause. It is a humanitarian cause. Protecting people from murder at the hands of ISIL terrorist is a humanitarian cause," he said.

His comments follow the AUSMIN talks where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, which Mr Abbott described as "the closest possible discussions" about Australia's role in any action.

"I'm conscious of the fact that other countries have the capacity to act in a whole range of ways, but I'm also conscious of the fact that Australia is not without capacity and we want to use to capacity we have for good," Mr Abbott said in London.

"I just want to stress again and again that what is happening in Northern Iraq is a humanitarian catastrophe."