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Australia may send more troops to Kabul

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that the country may send several hundred more soldiers to Afghanistan.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 16:17 IST

Australia is likely to send several hundred more soldiers to Afghanistan to assist a Dutch deployment in a former Taliban stronghold, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

Speaking in London on Tuesday, Downer said that 200 troops would probably be deployed to take part in a proposed provincial reconstruction team with Dutch soldiers in the southern province of Uruzgan as early as July.

Downer, in London to attend a major international conference on Afghanistan, said the Netherlands was expected to decide later this week on whether it would boost its deployment to the Central Asian nation.

"We'll have to wait and see whether that (Dutch deployment) happens, but I think it's much more likely than not that we will send those extra troops there," he told reporters.

Australia has already committed some 400 troops and support personnel to Afghanistan, mostly special forces soldiers.

Downer said that, were the Dutch to decide against the deployment, Australia would still discuss deploying with British or American troops.

"We won't necessarily abandon the idea of a provincial reconstruction team," he said.

"We know how important it is for the new democratic government in Afghanistan and the new free and democratic processes there to survive, and every country that possibly can needs to give support to Afghanistan."

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 14:42 IST