The Australian government says it is vital for Australia to remain fighting in Afghanistan to prevent a repeat of terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.
Foreign Minister Stephen told the Ten Network today it was essential for the international community and in Australia’s national interests to stay in Afghanistan.
“There’s no doubt that this is the current centre of international terrorism,” he said.
“What we know about international terrorism in the modern world is it moves quickly … north to Europe and south to Southeast Asia.
“We’ve already been on the receiving end of terrorism in Southeast Asia. We don’t want to be on the receiving end again.”
Ninety-two Australians died in two of four significant terrorist attacks directed by militant Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) against western interests in Indonesia from 2002-05.
Many JI members trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Smith said there would be an increased US commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“That’s an unambiguously good thing because Afghanistan and the Pakistan area remain the current hotbed of international terrorism and it has to be met by the international community.”
Smith said the government had made it clear there would be no increase to the current Australian commitment of nearly 1,100 troops.
The deployment was not just a symbolic contribution as Australia was the largest non-NATO troop contributor.
“In addition to our forces we have a substantial capacity-building humanitarian assistance and development assistance into Afghanistan,” he said.
“We have to secure peace and security, but we have to try and help build a nation. We have to start making sure there is a joint international community effort on both fronts.”