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Afghan Minister In Australia

18 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah is in Canberra today for talks on the role of Australian troops in his war-torn country.

Abdullah, who arrived late on 17 August, is scheduled to meet with Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, and Defense Minister Robert Hill today. He is also due to officially open a new Afghan Embassy building in the capital.

The visit comes as Australia has promised to send 150 elite troops to Afghanistan by next month, and is considering a deployment of up to 200 more troops as part of a reconstruction team early next year.

Abdullah is due to leave Australia on 20 August for New Zealand, where he will meet New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark. New Zealand has a 40-strong elite commando unit in Afghanistan and a 120-member Provincial Reconstruction Team working in the northern province of Bamiyan.


For more on the Afghan elections, see RFE/RL and Radio Free Afghanistan's dedicated "Afghanistan Votes 2004-05" webpage.