Australia Rejects US Call for More Forces to Fight ISIL
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Australia has rejected a call from the US to contribute more military forces to the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, just days before Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits Washington for talks with President Barack Obama.
In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter last year urged close US allies to step up their military contributions, saying he wanted to “intensify and accelerate” the defeat of ISIL.
But Mr. Carter’s Australian counterpart Marise Payne on Wednesday ruled out a substantial increase in resources from Australia. Australia has been one of the larger contributors to the US-led campaign so far, with warplanes joining strikes in Syria and Iraq, as well as providing special forces and troop trainers for the Iraqi military.
“Australia has considered the request from US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in light of the substantial contributions we are already making to train Iraqi security forces and to the air campaign,” a spokesman for Ms. Payne said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
“The Government has advised Secretary Carter that our existing contributions will continue,” the statement said.
The decision comes just days before Mr. Turnbull meets Mr. Obama and senior US military officials for talks on terrorism and global security as well as more general trade and investment ties between the two allies.
On his two-day Washington visit starting on Jan. 18, Mr. Turnbull is expected to make a major foreign-policy speech before meeting Mr. Obama at the White House. Mr. Obama last year lightly admonished Mr. Turnbull over one Australian regional government’s approval for a lease deal handing control of a strategic port—near areas used for training by US Marines—to a Chinese firm.
Mr. Turnbull’s more hawkish predecessor Tony Abbott—ousted last September in a conservative-leadership struggle—had ordered an expansion of Australian bombing in Syria, while also calling for more troops on the ground in the Middle East alongside the US and other allies, if necessary.
Ms. Payne’s spokesman said Canberra had offered a small top-up of command personnel at coalition headquarters, while also being open to providing additional aircraft in support of coalition aid efforts in Syria and Iraq.