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Rudd one of the first world leaders to be briefed on new US strategy in Afghanistan

Kim Landers reported this story on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 12:41:00

ELEANOR HALL: After months of debate, the US President Barack Obama is set to spell out an expanded
American commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

The President has not publicly revealed how many extra troops he'll send but he has given the order
to his military commanders to start carrying out his plan.

Barack Obama has spent much of his day in the Oval Office briefing world leaders, including
Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: After an exhaustive review of the war effort the President is expected to announce
he'll send roughly 30,000 to 35,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.

It would be the boldest strategic move of his presidency.

Apart from the troop commitment, Barack Obama is expected to outline a fresh focus on training
Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow the Americans to leave.

He's also expected to deliver a deeper explanation of why he believes the US must continue to fight
in Afghanistan.

He'll emphasise the Afghan security forces need more time, more schooling and more US combat backup
to be up to the job on their own and he'll make tougher demands on the governments of Pakistan as
well as Afghanistan.

Against that background, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today became one of the first world leaders to
be briefed by the President about the new Afghanistan strategy.

KEVIN RUDD: In the future we will be increasing our police training effort in Uruzgan Province and
also at national command level in Kabul. We will also be increasing our civilian aid effort in
Uruzgan Province as well.

Our overall mission is to reflect within Uruzgan, the province for which we have joint
responsibility, a properly integrated military, civilian and police effort.

KIM LANDERS: Mr Rudd won't say how many extra police trainers and civilian aid personnel will go to
Afghanistan.

He says that's still being worked out although he's added that he wants this new contingent to be
deployed as rapidly as possible.

KEVIN RUDD: We believe that is the right approach. It is also consistent with the strategic
direction the President is taking, a strategic direction to develop an integrated military,
civilian and police strategy for the future.

KIM LANDERS: Australia has already committed 1,550 troops to Afghanistan, making it one of the top
10 military contributors.

KEVIN RUDD: The cause in which we are engaged is never to allow Afghanistan again to be a training
base, a safe haven for the operation of global terrorists. That is why we have been engaged with
the Americans for a long time passed. That is why we will be with America in Afghanistan for the
long haul into the future.

KIM LANDERS: Even before today's meeting, the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was making it
clear Barack Obama would not ask Australia for more troops.

ROBERT GIBBS: As I said earlier, the Australians committed a greater number of forces back in the
Spring when the president dedicated more American forces.

KIM LANDERS: But some countries are promising more troops.

Britain has confirmed it's sending an extra 500 - a commitment it had already flagged.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown says these extra troops would be accompanied by new forces
from at least eight other NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) allies.

Italy's Foreign Minister says Rome is ready to send more but he didn't specify how many.

Meanwhile the French Foreign Ministry is refusing to confirm or deny a media report which says the
US has asked France to provide another 1,500 troops.

But in the United States, the Commander in Chief Barack Obama has already given deployment orders.

Military officials say at least one group of US Marines is expected to deploy within two or three
weeks and will be in Afghanistan by Christmas.

Larger deployments will begin early next year.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.