Australia says it has exit plan for Iraq




 
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December 16th, 2005  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Australia says it has exit plan for Iraq


CANBERRA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australia has an exit strategy for its
forces in Iraq but the withdrawal of troops would be based on conditions in
Iraq and not on any deadline, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on
Friday.
Downer's comments are the first public mention of an exit strategy,
as Australia has previously said it would keep its forces in Iraq until
Iraqi forces could take over security.
"Obviously there is an exit plan. It is not time-bound, it's
condition bound," Downer told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Australia was one of the first countries to commit forces to the
U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein, and still has about 1,000 forces in and
around Iraq, including 450 troops guarding Japanese engineers in the
southern Al Muthanna province.
Japan has extended the deployment of its non-combat troops in Iraq
for up to another year and Australia has said it wants to continue to
provide security for the Japanese contingent.
Downer said Australia would not set a deadline for ending its
deployment in Iraq, as that could encourage more militant violence, but
would withdraw forces when the country could look after its own security.
But he foreshadowed a gradual reduction in foreign troops in 2006
following elections for a new Iraqi government.
Downer said all foreign forces wanted to leave Iraq as soon as
possible, but withdrawal would depend on the ability of Iraqi forces to take
over. He expected the United States and other countries to start withdrawing
forces next year after this week's elections.
"Once the election is out of the way, and that's where we are now, I
think you will see a gradual decline in the number of American troops and
other foreign troops there," he said.
The United States has about 155,000 troops in Iraq, while Britain
has about 8,000.
Italy has said it will reduce its 2,600 troops in Iraq by 10 percent
in January, while Britain last month said it could start withdrawing troops
if local forces could keep the peace.
Downer said reports suggested Iraq's 200,000 strong security forces
did a good job in keeping security under control on election day.
December 19th, 2005  
AussieNick
 
We're not going anywhere. The government has to say that to keep left wing pinkos happy. But really, or diggers are there for the long haul. They know it, the gov knows it and the dept of defence knows it.