Malcolm Turnbull has refused to rule out sending more troops to Afghanistan and emphasized the “very, very strong” relationship with the United States in a sign Australia could contribute to Donald Trump’s planned surge.
Responding to Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the US would reorient the mission towards “killing terrorists” rather than nation building, the Australian prime minister promised to “work through” any request for an increased troop commitment.
At a doorstop in Tumut on Wednesday, Turnbull repeated the line of Australia’s defense ministers that Australia makes one of the most substantial contributions to the coalition effort in Afghanistan and had increased its presence already.
On troop numbers, Turnbull said he was “not ruling anything out … I am not going to speculate on what the additional resources we would bring to bear would be, but as to timeline I think the coalition commitment to Afghanistan would be very long term, as it has been”.
Turnbull said “I’m not ruling anything out” and observed that Trump had not yet set out what additional resources the US will commit.
Asked about the Australian defense force’s capacity, Turnbull said “it depends how much, and for how long and what other calls on the ADF’s resources are present, but again, we will work through [any request], rather than speculate”.
“We’ll be having close consultation with the US, and the outcome of those may result in additional resources being deployed to Afghanistan but I don’t want to speculate on it, we are very very staunch allies … in the global war to defeat terrorism.”
Source: The Guardian