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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) have today. Ged Kearney on the

jobs forum which kicks off

today. More on that top store

later on but now to Brussels where NATO Defence Ministers are meeting to discuss the progress of war in Afghanistan. Defence Minister

Stephen Smith has just visited

soldiers in Afghanistan and he

joins us from the meeting now.

Good morning. Good morning. If

we start with one of our lead

stories this morning - the

foilg of that assassination

plot against Hamid Karzai. I

doesn't inspire much confidence

in the security of the country,

does it? Well, all I can go on

to date are the reports that

you've seen and I've seen. I

had a meeting with Afghan

Defence Minister Wardak much

earlier today, Brussels time.

The story hadn't broken when I

met him and it wasn't subject

of our conversations or

discussions. We did speak about

the assassination of former

President Rabbani. But we will

obviously speak to our

international partners and also

to Afghanistan to get some

assessment of these reports. On

the contrary, if the reports

are true what we see is Afghan

intelligence agencies working

successfully, the regrettable

truth is the assassination of

former President Rabbani did

show some very serious security

flaws and Minister Wardak was

at pains to make those points

as well. We know the Taliban have been utilising these

high-profile suicide bomb

propaganda-style attacks and

regrettably in the case of

President Rabbani, former President Rabbani they've been successful and that is a

significant blow. Leon Panetta,

who you did meet today, told a

media conference a short time

ago, warning Western alice of

hole yoeg out the military in

Afghanistan. But that is pretty much superfluous at the moment

because you mentioned the very

well targeted assassination of

Mr Rabbani as well as various

other small-scale attacks involving intimidation and

bullying in the capital, Kabul,

and else. Where it appears the

Taliban has shifted tactic s

somewhat, avoiding direct

contact with force and going

for the instruments of terror

and intimidation. They're doing

that because they have been de

grade and defleet and they

haven't been able and can't

make up ground literally on the

ground. I was in Uruzgan

province with the Chief of the

Defence Force on Monday. It's

quite clearly the case that we

have substantially consolidate

ed our position on the

ground. There's been a dramatic

fall in the number of

Taliban-initiated attacks both

in Uruzgan and in Afghanistan

generally. And our analysis is

that the reason they have moved

to these high profile propaganda attacks is because

they can't respond on the ground. Our operations against

them, generally in Afghanistan,

have been very successful over

the past 12 to 18 months. Their

tactic is to go for these high

profile propaganda-style

attacks to seek to further

undermine confidence and to

undermine political will in

NATO countries, the United

States and Australia. So it's a

measure of how successful we've

been on the security front in

the last 12 to 18 months rather

than the contrary. But there's

no point giding the lily,

there's no - gilding the lily,

there's no point beating around

the bush, the successful aseas

nation against former President

Rabbani is a very significant

blow to the high peace council,

to efforts at peace and reconciliation and that's one

of the reasons, for example,

why President Karzai has made

it clear he would now prefer to

have a conversation with

Pakistan rather than to have a conversation with the

Taliban. And that's very much

stating the obvious of course.

You're well aware that the out

Mike going top US military officer,

Mike Mullen, I think it was

last week said he thought the

authorities Haqqani terror network which

authorities are saying are behind this behind this foiled

assassination attempt against

Karzai are a veritable arm of

Pakistan's intelligence

service. Do you agree with

assessments like that? Leave to

one side issues of any

relationship between Pakistan's

intelligence agency and the

Haqqani network. What we coknow

of the Haqqani network is in

recent times it has made moves

to extend its influence. For

some time, it's essentially

occupied traditional territory

but we now know it's seeking to

extend its influence. That is a

bad sign. We can't allow the

good work we've done against

al-Qaeda, the good work we've

done against the Afghanistan

Taliban to now be overtaken by

efforts of the Haqqani network.

So that needs to be

confrontsed. So far as any

Pakistan agency relationship

with Haqqani or any other

terror network is concerned,

our essential point publicly

and privately to Pakistan is we

know that over previous years

Pakistan has made efforts

against extremism and terrorism

in Pakistan but it needs to make greater effort. We

continue to know that the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

area is not just a potential threat to the international

community. It's very much, we

believe, a threat to Pakistan

itself and so Pakistan needs to

redouble its efforts. And the

comments that we've seen not

just from admiral Mullen in

recent times but from other US

officials in the past, have

simply served to reinforce the

points that we can't ignore what occurs on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

area and Pakistan has to

redouble and increase its erts

against extremism and terrorism

- efforts against e. Treexism

and terrorism in Pakistan

because that is a threat to

Pakistan itself, not just a

threat to NATO or ISAF

forces. And do these greater

efforts involve breaking what

he see - and until recently he

as the top military office desh

the very clear direct link

between Pakistan's intelligence between Pakistan's

service and Haqqani? We urge

Pakistan to redouble its

efforts against extremism and

terrorism in Pakistan.

Certainly, the Pakistan

civilian government deny any

links with the civilian

administration and any tryst

organisation. We make the point

publicly and privately to

Pakistan that it needs to

ensure that any of its agencies

don't have links with terrorist

or extremist groups. But in is

evidence and there is no point

moving a way from that, there

is evidence which draws people

to the conclusion that some

elements of Pakistan's agencies

do have links with terrorist

groups. Pakistan as a nation

state needs to walk away from

that and needs to focus very

clearly on the dangers posed by

terrorism and extreme ism in

Pakistan. This is very much a

threat to Pakistan's Oast

existence, not just a threat to

stability or peace in

Afghanistan or a threat to Australian, International

Security Assistance Force or

NATO troops in Afghanistan

itself. Stephen Smith in

Brussell, thank you for taking

the time to speak to us this