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UPDATED: 10:56, December 22, 2006
Australia not to send extra troops to Iraq: PM
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Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Friday that he has no plan to send more troops to Iraq nor to reduce the troop numbers in the war-torn Gulf country.

Howard's statements came following speculations the United States is planning to increase number of troops in Iraq.

"I don't have any plans at present to increase Australia's troop commitment, nor do I have any plans to reduce it," Howard told the Nine Network television.

Howard said he would be notified if U.S. President George W Bush decided to send more troops, but it would not mean Australia would follow.

"What the situation is at the next election will depend on conditions in Iraq and the one thing we won't do is be part of any withdrawal which hands victory to the terrorists," he said.

Howard also acknowledged Australia relies on the United States and said it is important the alliance continues.

"People are critical of America and their President Bush, but in the end, our futures are linked and the strength and power of America is important to us especially in this part of the world," he said.

Australia, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led war on terror, currently maintains around 1,400 troops in and around Iraq.

There are also speculations that the United States has asked Australia to send more troops to Iraq.

Source: Xinhua

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