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Australian PM Tells Troops In Afghanistan It's Time To Go Home

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (file photo)

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (file photo)

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made a one-day surprise visit to Australian troops serving in Afghanistan, telling them, "It is about time we brought you home."

Rudd, who the Labor Party reinstalled as the country's leader four weeks ago ahead of this year's election, made the trip with his wife, Therese Rein, on July 27.

They visited Australian soldiers for about four hours at a base in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Oruzgan Province.

Rein is the first wife of an Australian prime minister to visit a war zone.

She was briefed on aid work in Afghanistan and said she was proud to meet some of the 1,550 Australian soldiers now serving in Afghanistan.

Rudd said Australia was committed to continuing to help the Afghan government after the planned withdrawal of its troops by the end of 2014.

Australia has around 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, most of them based in Oruzgan Province.

The provincial governor praised the help Australia has provided to Afghanistan over the last decade.

Australia is preparing to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP