Australia committed to Afghanistan mission: PM

09:45, October 05, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Monday that her country was determined to serve its training mission in Afghanistan and looked forward to engaging with NATO in "a flexible way."

The newly sworn-in leader made the remarks after her first visit to NATO headquarters and her meeting with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels.

"Progress is being made in training the Afghan national army. That is what our soldiers are working on. We are engaged in our mission to train soldiers for the Afghan national army in Oruzgan province," she said, adding that progress was also achieved in aid and reconstruction.

She said the strategy now was transition of responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces and expected that the Australian training mission in Afghanistan would end in two to four years.

Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that "I can provide you with a roadmap (of transition in Afghanistan). I hope our summit in November will announce that a transition to lead Afghan responsibility is about to start at the beginning of 2011. And at the latest by July 2011."

"We will endorse President (Hamid) Karzai's ambition that Afghan security forces should be able to take lead responsibility all over Afghanistan by the end of 2014," he said.

Gillard said as "a very significant contributor" to NATO, "Australia will be looking forwards to having the ability to engage with NATO in a flexible way over time."

Australia, as the largest non-NATO troops contributor in Afghanistan, has 1,550 soldiers stationed in the country to help fight Taliban militants and train Afghanistan security forces. Twenty-one Australian troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, is expected to visit the European Union (EU) headquarters and attend the opening ceremony of the eighth Asia-Europe summit in Brussels later in the day.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张心意)

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