Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

France's top consumer group sues Internet giants

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to South Korea ferry victims

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

  • Why Syria’s cash-strapped jihadists let hostages go

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels call for Russian troops after deadly clash

    Read more

  • The Great War's unsung four-legged heroes

    Read more

  • UK’s Hamilton cruises to victory at Chinese Grand Prix

    Read more

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken South Korean ferry

    Read more

  • Freed French journalists arrive home after Syria ordeal

    Read more

  • Syria’s Assad visits recaptured Christian town at Easter

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Militants kill Algerian soldiers in deadly ambush

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Australia to speed up Afghan troop withdrawal

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-04-17

Australia on Tuesday announced plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2013, a year earlier than planned, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying Afghan forces would be ready to take charge of local security earlier than expected.

AFP - Australia said Tuesday it will bring its troops home from Afghanistan a year earlier than planned with most soldiers withdrawn in 2013 after significant security gains over the past 18 months.

Canberra, a key coalition ally of the United States, has repeatedly said it intends to remain in the war-wracked nation until 2014 but Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Afghans would now be ready to take responsibility earlier.

She will take her pull-out timetable to a NATO summit in Chicago next month with her announcement coming a day ahead of NATO foreign and defence ministers meeting in Brussels to fine-tune their own troop withdrawals.

"I'm now confident that Chicago will recognise mid-2013 as a key milestone in the international strategy," she said in a keynote speech shortly after a wave of coordinated Taliban attacks in Afghanistan left 51 people dead.

"A crucial point when the international forces will be able to move to a supporting role across all of Afghanistan."

Australia has some 1,550 troops stationed in the strife-torn country and has so far lost 32 soldiers in the conflict.

Gillard said they would begin leaving as soon as Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared Afghans would take responsibility for Uruzgan province, where most Australian forces are based.

Karzai is expected to make the announcement "in the coming months" and once he did, the withdrawal should take 12 to 18 months.

"And when this is complete, Australia's commitment in Afghanistan will look very different to that we have today," she said.

"We will have completed our training and mentoring mission with the 4th Brigade.

"We will no longer be conducting routine frontline operations with the Afghan National Security Forces. The Australian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team will have completed its work.

"And the majority of our troops will have returned home."

While most soldiers will return, she made clear Australia stood ready to "provide niche training to the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014".

"We are prepared to consider a limited Special Forces contribution -- in the right circumstances and under the right mandate," she said.

Canberra has faced increasing pressure over the long-running Afghan campaign and a 2013 pull-out will be a year in advance of the 2014 deadline previously laid down by NATO-led international forces.

It will also mean most Australian troops are likely to be home before the next election.

Gillard is struggling in the polls and many people oppose the deployment to Afghanistan, but she denied it was a political decision, or had been accelerated because US President Barack Obama faces an election in November.

"What drives the timetable is the assessment by ISAF and then by the Afghan government of the right moment to enter transition," she said, referring to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"And that is based on an assessment of the growing capacity of the Afghan national security forces."

Australia's Afghan deployment began in 2001 before Canberra pulled out, only to redeploy to the arena in 2005.

Gillard said while the challenges remained significant, important gains had been made that helped fast-track a transition to full Afghan security responsibility.

"Bin Laden is dead. Most of Al-Qaeda's senior leaders have been killed or captured. We have pushed Al-Qaeda's remaining leaders to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area," she said.

"The Afghan National Army's 4th Brigade is increasingly capable of planning and conducting operations on its own and the Afghan security presence across the province is expanding."

Date created : 2012-04-17

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Three Australian soldiers to face charges for civilian deaths

    Read more

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Afghan forces take charge of controversial night raids

    Read more

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Afghan-led forces take back Kabul, kill Taliban militants

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)