Australian defense minister attends NATO meeting

12:38, June 11, 2010      

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Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense ministers meeting on Friday in Brussels to discuss progress in Afghanistan.

Senator Faulkner told Australia's media before the meeting that it was an opportunity to discuss the situation with NATO and non-NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contributing nations.

Also likely to be discussed was the imminent withdrawal of Dutch forces from Oruzgan province and who will take over from them.

Faulkner said Australia remained committed to the ISAF mission.

"We strongly support ISAF's integrated civilian military approach and the enhanced civilian contribution that the prime minister announced in April will ensure that our commitment is aligned with these efforts," Faulkner said in a statement.

"Much work lies ahead, but there are promising signs of progress in Afghanistan and Australia is making a major contribution to the international effort there."

Australia now has 1550 troops in Afghanistan, the 10th largest contributor of the 46 nations in ISAF and the largest non-NATO contributor.

Senator Faulkner is accompanied by Defense head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and defense department secretary Dr. Ian Watt.



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