Australia's war in Afghanistan is over: PM

Updated: 2013-10-29 10:34


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CANBERRA - "Australia's longest war" is ending and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan, is drawing down and will be complete by the end of the year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced in a statement on Tuesday when he made a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

According to a statement from Prime Minister, Abbott arrived at Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, on Monday evening for a "recognition ceremony" to mark the end of Australia's involvement in the war that has seen the loss of 40 Australian soldiers over more than a decade.

In a speech at the ceremony, he declared the Afghanistan war is complicated. "Australia's longest war is ending," he said. "Not with victory, not with defeat, but with, we hope, an Afghanistan that is better for our presence here."

And he said the imminent withdrawal of Australian troops is bittersweet. "It's sweet because hundreds of soldiers will be home for Christmas; bitter because not all Australian families have had their sons, fathers and partners return," he said.

According to the figures of the Australian government, more than 20,000 Australians have served in Afghanistan - 260 were wounded and 40 were killed in action.

By the end of the year, over 1,000 Australian troops currently serving in Afghanistan will have returned home. But it's not the end of Australia's commitment to Afghanistan.

"It was important to reaffirm Australia's ongoing commitment to support Afghanistan's security, governance and development in 2014 and beyond, including ongoing training for the Afghan National Security Forces and development assistance," the statement said.

According to the government's plan, 300-400 trainers and advisers will remain through next year, stationed in Kandahar and Kabul. And the Australian government's 36 million AU dollars ($34.32 million) funding of Uruzgan province will continue, educating children and empowering local people with health care and maternity training.