The Australian government will consider any request from the US to contribute further troops to Afghanistan, Defence Minister Marise Payne said on Tuesday.
In a statement following US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would “ask NATO allies and global partners” for further support, Payne said that while Australian contribution was already “significant”, the government would consider any formal request, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We will examine the President’s statement, consider any expectations of counterpart nations and engage in discussion with the US on these matters,” Payne said.
“Australia is making a significant contribution to operations including in Iraq and Syria, in Afghanistan and in our own region. In May, we agreed to increase the ADF train, advise and assist mission in Afghanistan by 30 personnel, which will take our total troop numbers to around 300.”
Meanwhile Peter Jennings from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said Australia would definitely be one of the nations from which Trump would seek support.
“We will certainly be among the allies they would expect to take a request like that seriously,” Jennings said.
He said that while the US might be concerned with the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Australia should perhaps look at working against the Islamic State (IS) group in the Philippines — much closer to home.
“It might be smart to actually look at doing a bit more to assist with the Philippines because really we just can’t let the IS establish a hold in the South and that’s probably for us where the most immediate problem is,” Jennings said.