Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has made an announcement an hour ago:
"A task force of about 450 troops is to be sent to Iraq, increasing Australia's military contingent there by some 50 per cent... The task force, which will have infantry and cavalry units as well as some 40 armoured vehicles, will be assisting the roles of Japanese troops currently serving in southern Iraq...
"Their primary task will be providing security for the Japanese engineering and support forces doing humanitarian work in the Al Mutthanna province. 'The first (task) will be to provide a secure environment for the Japanese engineering and support forces which are making a valuable humanitarian contribution to the rebuilding process,' Mr Howard said. 'The task group will also be involved importantly in the further training of Iraqi security forces. That training is essential to the Iraqis in the future being able to take over the internal and external defence of their country'...
" 'The government believes that Iraq is very much at a tilting point and it's very important that the opportunity of democracy, not only in Iraq, but also in other parts of the Middle East be seized and consolidated,' he said."