Australia Pledges $300 Million to Help Afghan Transition

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 3:00 am (UTC-5)
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Australia has pledged to contribute $300 million to help sustain Afghan security forces after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday that Australia would provide $100 million annually to Afghanistan for three years beginning in 2015.

Foreign combat troops are scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan and transfer security to Afghan National Security Forces by the end of 2014.

Australia, which has over 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, announced in March that its troops would withdraw from the country in mid-2013, one year earlier than previously planned.

Gillard said Wednesday that Australia would consider an ongoing special forces presence in the country after the Afghans take control, saying it has a “vital national interest” in supporting Afghanistan's stability.

She also said Canberra will maintain a “substantial development assistance program” beyond 2014 to assist in areas such as health and education.

About 32 Australian troops have been killed in the U.S.-led effort that toppled the Taliban after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.