Australia pledges to keep troops in Afghanistan

February 22nd, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by admin  

Canberra, Feb 22 (Xinhua) Australia Friday stated that it would keep its troops in Afghanistan for a long term, despite its decision to withdraw forces from Iraq, the defence minister said. “We’ve made it very, very clear that our commitment in Afghanistan is a long-standing one,” Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon told reporters here.

“I said in parliament just this week what a tragedy it would be if all that we’d done in Afghanistan so far was in the end all for naught. So our commitment is a long-term one.”

Australia has deployed about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, a former Taliban stronghold.

Australia’s previous government had sent 2,000 troops to support US and British forces in the Iraq invasion. But the new Australian government, elected in November last year, promised to pull out the country’s combat troops from Iraq by mid-2008.

Wednesday, Australia Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston told a Senate committee that the military is planning to withdrew 550 combat troops from Iraq.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday announced to pull its 2,500 troops out of southern Afghanistan by 2011.

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Thursday called for more international commitment to the fight against the Taliban in the war-ravaged country.

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