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Australia PM declares end of 'longest war' on surprise Afghan visit

world Updated: Oct 29, 2013 13:07 IST
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared the end of his country's "longest war" on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

According to an ABC report, Abbott while speaking at a special ceremony at the Australian-run base in Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province on Monday, said "Australia's longest war is ending. Not with victory, not with defeat, but with, we hope, an Afghanistan that is better for our presence here."

Describing the Afghan war as complicated, he further said that?the imminent withdrawal of Australian troops was "bittersweet".

"It's bittersweet because hundreds of soldiers will be home for Christmas; bitter because not all Australian families have had their sons, fathers and partners return," he said. "Sweet because our soldiers have given a magnificent account of themselves; bitter because Afghanistan remains a dangerous place despite all that has been done."

More than 20,000 Australians have served in Afghanistan 260 were wounded and 40 were killed in action. The war has cost over AUD 7.5 billion.

Under current plans, Australia will end all combat operations and withdraw some 1,000 troops from Uruzgan Province by the end of the year.

However, about 400 will remain in a variety of roles including mentoring the headquarters of the Afghan National Army (ANA) 205 Corps in Kandahar and assisting in training of ANA officer cadets in Kabul