Australia said the majority of its troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, following the lead of plans announced by its allies in U.S. and Europe to exit the Asian nation’s war.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to make an announcement on the security transition in Uruzgan and other provinces, a process that may take as long as 18 months, in “the coming months,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech in Canberra today.
“When transition is complete, Australia’s commitment in Afghanistan will look very different to that we have today,” Gillard said in the emailed text of the speech. “We will no longer be conducting routine frontline operations with the Afghan national security forces.”
Public and political support for the Afghan war, waning in the U.S. and Europe, has also been declining in Australia, exacerbated by Taliban attacks such as those staged over the weekend on the capital, Kabul, and three other cities. Last year alone, 11 Australian soldiers were killed and 50 wounded in the nation, Gillard said today.
President Barack Obama is planning to remove U.S. combat forces by the end of 2014. A Washington Post-ABC News poll published April 12 showed a record low of 30 percent of the American public think the war has been worth fighting.
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