Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who visited Kabul on Sunday said there will be a small increase in the Australian troop commitment to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.
In scope of the reinforcement, 20 more personnel will join the Australian mission in Afghanistan bringing the total number of personnel to 270. 41 Australian soldiers have been killed since Australia involved itself in the conflict in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001.
The Afghan government and NATO signed a security deal in 2014 allowing 12,000 foreign troops to remain in the country after NATO’s combat mission ended in December 2014.
NATO’s presence in the country, which was not determined in its agreement with the government, could be extended if member countries commit their troops and resources.
Despite Turnbull rejecting US President Obama’s request for Australia to send more troops to combat DAESH insurgency in Syria and Iraq last week, he said the decision to slightly increase the number of troops sent was to ensure that Afghanistan is safer, more secure, also to ensure that Afghanistan is able to defend itself with its own people, and that this is absolutely critical to the security of the world and indeed of Australia.
“There is no where, that is long, we say Afghanistan’s a long way from Australia and it is and I’m sure you feel is, particularly when you’re missing your families. But it is, everything’s very close and very connected,” Turnbull said when speaking to Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the USA are set to meet for talks aimed at establishing a roadmap for peace between Afghanistan and the Taliban.
Taliban was invited to attend the peace talks by the representatives saying that the Taliban should “consider giving up violence” to stop 15 years of war between the Taliban and Afghan government.
However, the Taliban, whose leader demanded that the Afghan government expel foreign forces from the country and cancel the security deal with the US, will not be attending the talks.
Turnbull is set to visit Washington on Monday and Tuesday for a meeting with Obama, where national security in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions are set to be agenda-topping items.