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News Link • Afghanistan

Australian PM Announces Early Afghan Exit

•, by John Glaser
 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday Australia will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan about a year earlier than previously thought.
The 1,500 Australian troops in Afghanistan would begin pulling out this year and most would be home by the end of 2013, a full year before most international troops are supposed to leave in 2014.

The announcement of the early withdrawal – which Gillard said will take place in an election year in Australia – was made one month before an important NATO conference on Afghanistan in Chicago.

Senior U.S. defense officials disagree with the characterization Ms. Gillard’s announcement has received, claiming anonymously that Australia’s plans have not changed and are in line with past agreements.

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