PM: US policy change unlikely


Summary

Mr Howard was responding to reports the White House may bring forward its timetable for reassessing its Iraq strategy to next week, when it receives an interim progress report on its so-called troops surge.

南宁桑拿

US Democrats fired up a new assault on US war strategy with a demand for troop withdrawals within four months, with most combat troops to be home by the end of next April.

But US president George W Bush asked lawmakers to wait for the US commander in Iraq to deliver a key progress report on his troop surge strategy, due in September.

"I don't believe there is going to be any change in the course on which the (US) administration has set itself over recent months," Mr Howard said.

"There's always speculation but my very strong view is that the administration will remain on course with what it's previously said and the next step in the process is to receive General Petraeus' report which he'll deliver to Congress in September, "Mr Howard said, referring to the top US commander in Iraq.

'A victory for terrorists'

Mr Howard, who sent 2,000 troops to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and British forces and keeps about 1,600 troops in the region, repeated his government's position that an early withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake.

Labor continues to demand the federal government outline an exit strategy for Iraq but Mr Howard told the opposition to just be patient.

"The next issue in relation to Iraq in the United States is for General Petraeus to give his report to Congress, I think we should all take a deep breath and wait until that report is given," he said.

"We believe very strongly that if the coalition were to pull out of Iraq in circumstances perceived as defeat then that would be very destabilizing for the region, it would a huge victory for the terrorists and it would be against Australia's national interest," he said.

Labor: 'withdrawal anyway'

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland indicated Labor would continue with its pledge to withdraw Australian troops even if General Petraeus delivered a report that the current strategy in Iraq was working.

Addressing the National Press Club yesterday, Mr McClelland said the Petraeus report was unlikely to make Labor reconsider its Iraq policy.

Troops in Afghanistan

Labor believes Australia's troops in Afghanistan are being done a disservice because the government is splitting its resources between the two battle fronts.

"That's why I think what Labor will be saying to the international community, even when that report comes down, (is) 'listen, where we can be most effective in the international fight against terrorism is where we can maximise our own capacity, by focusing our resources in our own region'," Mr McClelland said.

Poll

Mr Howard, meanwhile, remains defiant over his government's commitment to the war despite its unpopularity in Australia.

A Newspoll, published in The Australian newspaper yesterday, revealed 26 per cent of people want a definite date set for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, while 23 per cent want the diggers brought home immediately.

Thirty-one per cent said the troops should remain as long as the Iraqi government wanted them, with 14 per cent supporting a mid-2008 withdrawal.

"A lot of people disagree with me on Iraq," he said.

"My position is we are there to help the people of Iraq … we believe very strongly that if the coalition were to pull out of Iraq in circumstances to be perceived as defeat that would be very destabilising for the region, it would be a huge victory for the terrorists and it would be against Australia's national interest."

Mr McClelland predicts the government could be damaged by its Iraq policy at the next federal election.

"The Howard's government's conduct of the war in Iraq has … damaged its credibility (on security issues)," he said.

"If the electorate perceives the government acting on political allegiance rather addressing Australia's national security priorities then they will receive a whack from the electorate on the issue of Iraq."


Mr Howard was responding to reports the White House may bring forward its timetable for reassessing its Iraq strategy to next week, when it receives an interim progress report on its so-called troops surge.

苏州皮肤管理中心

US Democrats fired up a new assault on US war strategy with a demand for troop withdrawals within four months, with most combat troops to be home by the end of next April.

But US president George W Bush asked lawmakers to wait for the US commander in Iraq to deliver a key progress report on his troop surge strategy, due in September.

"I don't believe there is going to be any change in the course on which the (US) administration has set itself over recent months," Mr Howard said.

"There's always speculation but my very strong view is that the administration will remain on course with what it's previously said and the next step in the process is to receive General Petraeus' report which he'll deliver to Congress in September, "Mr Howard said, referring to the top US commander in Iraq.

'A victory for terrorists'

Mr Howard, who sent 2,000 troops to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and British forces and keeps about 1,600 troops in the region, repeated his government's position that an early withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake.

Labor continues to demand the federal government outline an exit strategy for Iraq but Mr Howard told the opposition to just be patient.

"The next issue in relation to Iraq in the United States is for General Petraeus to give his report to Congress, I think we should all take a deep breath and wait until that report is given," he said.

"We believe very strongly that if the coalition were to pull out of Iraq in circumstances perceived as defeat then that would be very destabilizing for the region, it would a huge victory for the terrorists and it would be against Australia's national interest," he said.

Labor: 'withdrawal anyway'

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland indicated Labor would continue with its pledge to withdraw Australian troops even if General Petraeus delivered a report that the current strategy in Iraq was working.

Addressing the National Press Club yesterday, Mr McClelland said the Petraeus report was unlikely to make Labor reconsider its Iraq policy.

Troops in Afghanistan

Labor believes Australia's troops in Afghanistan are being done a disservice because the government is splitting its resources between the two battle fronts.

"That's why I think what Labor will be saying to the international community, even when that report comes down, (is) 'listen, where we can be most effective in the international fight against terrorism is where we can maximise our own capacity, by focusing our resources in our own region'," Mr McClelland said.

Poll

Mr Howard, meanwhile, remains defiant over his government's commitment to the war despite its unpopularity in Australia.

A Newspoll, published in The Australian newspaper yesterday, revealed 26 per cent of people want a definite date set for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, while 23 per cent want the diggers brought home immediately.

Thirty-one per cent said the troops should remain as long as the Iraqi government wanted them, with 14 per cent supporting a mid-2008 withdrawal.

"A lot of people disagree with me on Iraq," he said.

"My position is we are there to help the people of Iraq … we believe very strongly that if the coalition were to pull out of Iraq in circumstances to be perceived as defeat that would be very destabilising for the region, it would be a huge victory for the terrorists and it would be against Australia's national interest."

Mr McClelland predicts the government could be damaged by its Iraq policy at the next federal election.

"The Howard's government's conduct of the war in Iraq has … damaged its credibility (on security issues)," he said.

"If the electorate perceives the government acting on political allegiance rather addressing Australia's national security priorities then they will receive a whack from the electorate on the issue of Iraq."