Australia to send 240 troops to Kabul: Howard
The team will work with a Dutch-led reconstruction project in the country's troubled south-central region, the Australian premier said.india Updated: May 08, 2006 14:03 IST
Australia will send a 240-strong military team to Afghanistan to work with a Dutch-led reconstruction project in the country's troubled south-central region, Prime Minister John Howard said on Monday.
"The 240 personnel will begin going to Afghanistan in July and will proceed in appropriate numbers at an appropriate pace... Over the weeks and months following that," Howard told reporters.
The deployment of Australian personnel to Afghanistan's Uruzgan province was announced in February, but Howard said the size and composition of the force had now been determined following discussions with the Netherlands.
The Netherlands, which will lead the reconstruction team, has committed some 1,400 troops to the project.
Howard said the deployment was a "further reminder of our very strong commitment to the coalition effort in Afghanistan" despite the dangers of operating in the violence-wrecked central Asian nation.
"The situation in Afghanistan requires a continued strong coalition presence," he said.
"Like all operations in that country there is danger. The situation in Afghanistan still remains in a number of parts of the country quite fraught."
Howard said the latest deployment was a reinforcement of the commitment the Australian government made in 2001, when it was part of the US-led coalition force which ousted the fundamentalist Taliban regime harbouring Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.