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Australia adds 450 troops in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Rudd: "Less security in Afghanistan means less security for Australians"
  • Reinforcements represent a 41 percent increase for Australian troops
  • NATO allies of U.S. pledged 5,000 more troops for Afghanistan
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(CNN) -- Australia will boost its troop commitment in Afghanistan by 450 soldiers to help in the international fight against a resurgent Taliban, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday.

The announcement means the number of Australian troops will climb to 1,550 from 1,100 -- an increase of 41 percent.

"Australia will not bow to the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan," Rudd said. "And we will continue to stand by our American ally in confronting this threat, because failure to do so would only compound the terrorist threat to Australian, American and other nationals at home and abroad."

The Australian forces are in addition to the 17,000 more combat troops and 4,000 trainers U.S. President Barack Obama has committed, bringing the total American contingent to nearly 60,000.

Other NATO allies of the U.S. -- France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom -- pledged 5,000 more troops for Afghanistan earlier this month. They comprise 3,000 for security for the upcoming Afghan election; 1,400 to 2,000 troops embedded with Afghan soldiers; and 400 police trainers.

Australia's commitment to Afghanistan is essential to denying sanctuary to terrorists there, Rudd said.

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"We cannot ignore this cold, hard strategic fact: Less security in Afghanistan means less security for Australians," he said. "Handing Afghanistan back to terrorist control will increase the threat to all Australians."

Ten Australian troops have died in the Afghan conflict.

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