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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) Australian Labor MP Melissa

Parke said she couldn't support

the deal if it didn't have the

backing of the UN's Refugee

Agency. This week another Australian soldier was killed

in Afghanistan. The 27th

Australian death in an uncrease

ingly unpopular war. The Defence Minister is currently

in Belgium meeting his NATO

counterparts to discuss the

conflicts. Earlier he told us on 'ABC News Breakfast' despite

the deaths he still feels

progress is being made. We

believe we'd made progress.

Yes, it continues to be

difficult and in the context of

Australia having suffered four

terrible fatalities in the

course of the last couple of

weeks and six in the course of

this year, we know that it's

tough. We know those fatalitys

have reverberate ed through the

Australian community but every

Defence Ministeral colleague

that I speak to or NATO or sigh

Sav official believes we have

made up --

ISAF official believes we have

made up ground and believes we

are making substantial progress. You and the Prime Minister have insisted Australia does have to stay the

course in Afghanistan in the

wake of yet another Australian

death there. As you would also

know there is vigorous debate

in Washington about the speed

and scale of the proposed US drawdown which will start in

July. A lot of senior White

House advisers are pushing

Barack Obama to speed up the

withdrawal of US troops on the

back of the killing of Osama

bin Laden and other factors.

Don't those arguments carry

some weight? There has never

been anything inconsistent with

a drawdown with a commitment to

see the source, when President

Obama announced effectively a

30,000 increase of a US troop

complement nearly two years

ago, that was matched by NATO

countries so we saw a 40,000 increase. The United States

administration has not come to

its conclusion yet. That's

clear from my discussions here

with Secretary Gates that I had

today. We should wait and she

what the outcome of that is.

But importantly from our

perspective we don't believe

that any US drawdown will see

any adverse implications for

our mission in Oruszgan and my

own instinct is that the

drawdown in the first instaps

will be modest rather than

large. Secretary Gates believes

we've made real progress on the

combat or security front over

the last 18 months. That's very

much a shared analysis not just

from Australia but from other

NATO and ISAF Defence Ministers

and countries. Secretary Gates

has been pushing for that. He

also says at some stage in the

not-too-distant future the

switch from strategy in Afghanistan will

switch from counter insurgency

to a much more targeted counter terrorism focus operation. Do

you see that happening any time

soon? Sydney as we make

progress the allocation of

resources and tactics will

change. Firstly we know that

the Special Forces operation

has been very effective in

denuding the capacity of the

Taliban, not just in Oruszgan,

but throughout Afghanistan

generally. That's the first

point. Secondly, everyone

appreciates the surge that

occurred nearly two years ago

of 40,000 NATO or ISAF troops.

Underappreciated is the effect

of what I describe as the

Afghan surge over the same

period of time we've seen an

additional 70 to 80,000 Afghan

security forces come on stream.

We now see nearly 300,000

Afghan security forces, either

army which is the majority or

local or national police. As

we've taken ground and as we

have trained and mentored the

Afghan national security

forces, it's freed up people