Code 34003
PublishDate: Thursday, November 12, 2009 12:52

Australia rejects call for more troops in Afghanistan

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a surprise visit to the war-torn nation this week, where he was briefed by U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal has been calling for a surge in force numbers following a review of operations in Afghanistan.

However, Smith said Australia would not be contributing any more troops at the moment.

"We certainly have not received any requests from the United States or from the International Security Assistance Force to increase the combat contribution that we have made," he told Sky News.

Smith said Australia maintained a presence in Afghanistan because it was in its national interest to do so.

"The Afghanistan-Pakistan border area is the current hotbed of international terrorism," he said.

"Just as our casualties in Afghanistan in the field are terrible and tragic, so are those attacks where Australian (civilian) lives have also been lost."

Smith said Australia needed to train the Afghan army and policeforce to handle terrorist threats by themselves before troops could begin to be withdrawn.

"We want to leave the Afghan nation in the position to manage these matters themselves," he said. v

Editor: Zhang Xiang

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