Obama calls Australian PM, discuss Afghanistan



Obama calls Australian PM, discuss Afghanistan Washington: Ahead of a major NATO summit in Chicago next week, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday discussed progress in Afghanistan with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the White House said.

Obama spoke to Gillard on phone for about 10 minutes and updated her on recent developments Afghanistan, including his trip there and the signing of the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, the White House said.

The two leaders discussed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement this week that international forces will soon begin transferring responsibility for a third tranche of provinces and districts to Afghan forces.

"During their discussion, the President and Prime Minister confirmed their shared goals for the ISAF meeting, to include moving forward with our effort to transition to Afghan lead responsibility and agreeing on sufficient and sustainable Afghan National Security Forces that can continue the progress the international community has already made," the White House said.

Obama noted that Australia is one of America's closest partners in Afghanistan, and expressed appreciation for Australia's significant contributions and Gillard's leadership, it said.

Australia has deployed a significant number of soldiers in Afghanistan as part of International forces.

PTI