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Gillard assures Obama of Australian support in Afghanistan

06-25-2010 10:10 BJT

CANBERRA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Australian new Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Friday that she has talked with U.S. President Barack Obama over phone and offered her full support for the military campaign in Afghanistan.

File photo of Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Julia Gillard has become Australia's first female Prime Minister after Kevin Rudd stood down as Labor Party leader. Photo wa taken on June 24, 2010(Xinhua File Photo)
File photo of Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
 Julia Gillard has become Australia's first female Prime 
Minister after Kevin Rudd stood down as Labor Party leader. 
Photo wa taken on June 24, 2010(Xinhua File Photo)

"I indicated to President Obama that he would expect to see the Australian efforts in Afghanistan continuing," Gillard told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday.

Defense Minister John Faulkner has indicated early this week that Australian troops could begin leaving Afghanistan in 2012, although he added that a transition to Afghan security forces could take two to four years.

Gillard said she told the president her approach to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led coalition's campaign in Afghanistan would be the same as that of her predecessor Kevin Rudd, who she replaced on Thursday.

Australia's relationship overall with the U.S., including the historic Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty ( ANZUS) alliance, is not likely to change, Gillard said.

Gillard also apologized to President Obama for not being able to attend G20 leaders' meeting in Toronto this weekend.

Treasurer Wayne Swan will be representing Australia at the meeting instead.

Gillard has also spoken briefly to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key."We are obviously very close as nations, except when we are engaged in combat on the sporting field," she said, adding that Key had offered his congratulations on her appointment as prime minister.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: Xinhua

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