‘No plan’ for more troops to Afghanistan

October 16, 2007 – 6:14PM

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the Howard government has no
plans to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Speaking on the ABC’s Lateline program on Monday night, Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai said his country would welcome more Australian troops.

“If Australia can send us more troops in order to stabilise the
country further, in order to conduct a more vigorous campaign against
terrorism, that would be welcome. Australia is also helping us in
other ways. We would welcome an increase in all manners,” Karzai said.

Labor has said it would be “attentive to any requests” for more
troops for Afghanistan, but would make the judgment based on
Australia’s defence resources at the time.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the Howard government has no
plans to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan.

Speaking on the ABC’s Lateline program on Monday night, Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai said his country would welcome more Australian troops.

“If Australia can send us more troops in order to stabilise the
country further, in order to conduct a more vigorous campaign against
terrorism, that would be welcome. Australia is also helping us in
other ways. We would welcome an increase in all manners,” Karzai said.

Labor has said it would be “attentive to any requests” for more
troops for Afghanistan, but would make the judgment based on
Australia’s defence resources at the time.

Speaking in Tonga, where he is attending the Pacific Islands Forum,
Downer said the coalition government did not intend to raise troop
numbers in Afghanistan.

“We have no plans to increase the number of troops that we have in
Afghanistan,” he said.

He said The Netherlands – Australia’s partners in Afghanistan – was
considering a drawdown of its forces, and NATO was looking for
partners to fill any gaps left by a smaller Dutch force.

“But we are not proposing to fill those gaps with Australians,” Downer said.

He also said there were no plans to reduce the number of Australian
soldiers in East Timor, where they are serving as part of a
peacekeeping mission.

“I think there is still a need for that deployment.

“I think the situation in East Timor is still fragile,” he said, but
added “they are making strides forward”.

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