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10th Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan

world Updated: Mar 20, 2009 08:44 IST
10th Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signaled on Friday that Australia will not substantially boost troop numbers in Afghanistan after a 10th Australian soldier died in the prolonged war against insurgents.

Rudd has yet to respond to a recent request from NATO for more Australian troops to help secure elections in Afghanistan in August, and he will meet President Barack Obama in Washington for the first time on Tuesday.

Australia's defence chief announced late yesterday that an Australian bomb disposal expert had been killed trying to defuse a makeshift device -- the second Australian soldier to have died in the Central Asian country in a week.

Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston declined to give details of the exact location and time of the death.

Australia has some 1,000 troops in Afghanistan and is a key US ally in the Afghan war. Rudd said the US-led coalition's future strategy in Afghanistan would be high on the agenda at his talks with Obama, and that he would consider any request for more Australian forces.

"We think our current commitment's about right," Rudd told Brisbane Radio 4BC on Friday.

"Listening to what President Obama has to say - reflecting on it - does not necessarily mean agreeing with it," he added.

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