Sydney: Australia has ruled out sending
extra troops to Afghanistan, despite US and NATO calls for
reinforcements to shore up the campaign against a resurgent
Taliban, a report said today.
Defence Minister John Faulkner told US officials
Australia had decided against boosting its 1,550-strong troop
commitment to the strife-torn nation beyond the 450 extra
soldiers it sent earlier this year.
"There is a very clear understanding and appreciation
of the fact that Australia increased the number of troops to
Afghanistan very significantly on April 29 this year,"
Faulkner said, according to public broadcaster ABC.
"I`ve certainly indicated to those I`ve spoken to
here in the United States over the last couple of days this
number is right," he added.
Faulkner, on an official visit to Washington, met
with congressional members, military commanders and his
American counterpart, Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
Faulkner said US authorities "well understood that
Australia uniquely has responsibilities in its own area of the
world," and appreciated Australia`s commitment -- the
ninth-biggest contingent of foreign troops.
Last month he said Australia was planning to
complete the operation in the "shortest time-frame possible"
once it had fulfilled its responsibilities training the Afghan
National Army in the southern province of Uruzgan.