Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard declares her full support to United States in the war against Afghanistan, and she had told to US President Barack Obama on Friday he could rely on her to continue the fight.
Gillard, who was positioned as Australia’s prime minister on Thursday after Kevin Rudd was ousted as Labor Party leader, said she had good conversation with Obama regarding on the rising casualties in Afghanistan.
“I assured President Obama that my approach to Afghanistan will continue the approach taken to date by the Australian government,” Gillard said to reporters and followed with: “I fully support the current deployment and I indicted to President Obama that he should expect to see the Australian efforts in Afghanistan continuing.”
At the present, Australia has around 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, mostly conducting military training to Afghan National Army volunteer troops in restive southern Uruzgan and the issue has bipartisan political support in Canberra.
But a series of deaths and crimes in the past fortnight, which includes those of three commandos in a helicopter crash this week, are a big factor and have brought the new Oz Prime Minster’s involvement in the distant war under heightened scrutiny.
John Wanna, an Australian National University political scientist, said he assumed the government is tempted to declare a troop drawdown in Afghanistan ahead of elections later this year.
“A commitment to pull out of Afghanistan might bring some of the left back to the government,” Wanna said. “Labor is bleeding votes out to the left, not to the right.”
The government under Rudd already announced this week its first rough timetable for an Australian withdrawal from Afghanistan, which could commence in 2012. But the government declines to nominate an exit date, saying that that depends on future military progress.
Gillard said she planned to communicate with the leaders of Britain, Canada, Indonesia, and Malaysia on Friday. She previously spoke to New Zealand’s leader Thursday, she said.
Additionally, Gillard said Australia and the United States had a strong and positive relationship and would continue to work accordingly in the Central Asian state.
“We are close as nations, we are in an enduring strategic alliance, we are close as peoples. We have fought together around the world and we continue to fight together in Afghanistan,” she said.