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Home >> World
UPDATED: 12:56, February 19, 2007
Cheney unlikely to ask for Australia's extra troops to Iraq: Australian PM
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Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Monday said U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney who will visit Australia later this week is unlikely to ask Australia to send more troops to Iraq.

Howard's statements came after allegations that Cheney will discuss what Australia may be able to do to enhance its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan after the United States decided to send more than 20,000 troops to the Middle East.

However, Howard said he did not expect Cheney to ask Australia to commit extra combat troops to Iraq.

"As far as combat troops are concerned I think the current level is appropriate and I don't expect Australia to be increasing that and I don't expect a specific request from the (U.S.) vice- president," Howard told the Nine Network television.

"Although, as I say constantly with these things, I never categorically rule something out because there could be some dramatic change in circumstances of which we're not aware at the moment," he said.

But he did not rule out providing trainers to help train Iraqi soldiers.

"I wouldn't at the margin rule out some additional trainers because trainers are very important in helping get the Iraqi army ready to do the job we all want it to be able to do, and that is to look after the country's security," he added.

Meanwhile, Howard would not rule out sending extra combat troops to Afghanistan.

"We will keep our own force commitment in Afghanistan under review," he said.

"On Afghanistan we continue to review our force level there - the situation in Afghanistan is not easy - we would like to see a greater commitment in the southern part of the country from a number of the non-NATO countries," he said.

Australia, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led war on terror, currently maintains around 1,400 troops in the Middle East, including 800 based inside Iraq.

Source: Xinhua

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