Australia agrees to NATO request for sending more troops in Afghanistan

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-29 14:03:41|Editor: xuxin
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CANBERRA, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has agreed to a request from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States to send additional personnel to Afghanistan, with the 30 additional troops to bring Australia's total commitment in the region to 300.

Defense Minister Marise Payne confirmed the commitment at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday, saying the troops would not be used in combat; instead they will serve in an advisory and training role only, for local forces which are in the fight against the Taliban and other rebels in the region.

"These additional ADF (Australian Defense Force) members will allow Australia to commit additional advisors to further develop the long term capabilities of the Afghan security forces as part of our current train, advise and assist mission," Payne told the Senate.

"Given the centrality of Afghanistan and the global fight against terrorism, enhanced contribution to the support mission is both timely and appropriate."

Payne said the government had carefully "considered" the NATO request for some time before agreeing to send the further 30 troops - a request which was publicly backed by the United States.

"These adjustments have been considered by the government in light of broader Australian Defence Force commitments across the globe and in view of the extremely dynamic strategic environment in which we currently find ourselves, not least in our own region," Payne said.

Despite the "modest" commitment, not all in Canberra have applauded the move, with independent MP Andrew Wilkie saying the government should be withdrawing from the region - not increasing Australia's presence.

"If you want to diminish the risk of terrorism in Australia, we should focus on our national interest, we should pull the 300 soldiers in Afghanistan and the further 1,000 further west in the Middle East. That would be good foreign policy," he said on Monday.