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Partial hand-over in Afghanistan just a first step

The Australian Greens welcomed the withdrawal of Australian troops from remaining Forward Operating Bases in Uruzgan province in Afghanistan today, but cautioned that deadly clashes would continue as long as foreign combat forces were deployed.

The Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said "this move is welcome but remains a long way off the goal of Afghan control of Afghan affairs".

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Partial Afghanistan withdrawal welcome – but still no end in sight

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement that some of Australia's combat forces in Afghanistan may be withdrawn by 2013, but called on the Government to justify its commitments to the United States and Afghanistan governments.

Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence Senator Scott Ludlam recently returned from an ADF Parliamentary exchange trip to Afghanistan, visiting Kandahar, Tarin Kowt, and a Forward Operating Base in the Chora Valley.

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Department of Defence - on drones, Afghanistan, US troops in Darwin

Additional Estimates - Tuesday 14 February 2012 - Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee - Department of Defence

Senator LUDLAM: I have a batch of questions that range fairly broadly across a number of topics, so you might want to direct me to officers later in the day, but I will start with opening statement stuff. I have a couple of questions about the recruitment of Afghan National Army soldiers. Can you tell me what exactly Australians have asked ISAF to do to ensure that there is not systemic infiltration of the ANA by the Taliban? 

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Visit of President Obama and deployment of US troops in Darwin

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (00:43): by leave-I rise to acknowledge that I got just as carried away as everybody else on the occasion of the visit last week by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. I was looking forward to the chance to see him up close and to get a sense of the rhetorical power that first caught the attention of the world at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. In that regard, he did not disappoint. His speech to the Australian parliament was beautifully crafted.

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Mr Julian Assange

Senator LUDLAM: I move:
That the Senate-
(a) notes that the High Court in London will bring down its decision on Wednesday, 2 November 2011 regarding Sweden's request to extradite Mr Julian Assange; and
(b) calls on the Government to ensure that:
(i) the consular and legal rights of all Australian citizens overseas are fully protected, and
(ii) if extradited to Sweden for questioning, Mr Assange not be subject to further extradition from Sweden to the United States of America under a bilateral agreement to which Australia is not party.
Question put.

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Condolence Speech on recent deaths in Afghanistan

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (17:04): I rise to add my condolences to those of my colleagues on all sides of the chamber concerning the horror that occurred on the weekend and to pay my respects to the three fallen Australians whose sacrifice is appreciated by all of us. Also to the Afghan interpreter, who was killed, and the many who were terribly injured, our thoughts are with them and their families. It is worth noting in passing, with a sense of sadness, that we do not speak to the names of each of Australia's fallen troops now because there are so many.

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