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Obama, new Australian prime minister speak about war

By the CNN Wire Staff
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Obama calls Julia Gillard, Australia's new prime minister
  • Gillard is Australia's first female prime minister
  • The two leaders talked about the alliance between the countries and Afghanistan
  • Gillard pledges continued commitment to war in Afghanistan
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(CNN) -- Australia's new prime minister pledged her commitment to the war in Afghanistan during a phone call with President Obama, the two leaders said.

"I assured President Obama that my approach to Afghanistan will continue the approach taken to date by the Australian government," said Julia Gillard, Australia's new prime minister, on Friday. "I fully support the current deployment and I indicated to President Obama that he should expect to see the Australian effort in Afghanistan continuing."

Julia Gillard, 48, was elected Thursday as Australia's first female prime minister. Obama called her Thursday night to congratulate her.

During the talk, Obama and Gillard "underscored their shared commitment to closely work together on the broad range of global challenges confronting both countries, including in Afghanistan," the White House statement said.

Australia is actively involved in the war in Afghanistan, but deaths of five Australian servicemen in the past month have made some question the effort. Australia currently has 1,550 troops in the Afghanistan, according to NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

"We are close as nations, we are in an enduring strategic alliance, we are close as people. We have fought together around the world, and we continue to fight together in Afghanistan," Gillard said Friday.

A White House statement also said the two leaders discussed the "special alliance" between the United States and Australia during the phone call.

Australia's Labor Party elected Gillard after it declared positions of leader and deputy leader vacant, ending Kevin Rudd's two and a half years as prime minister.

 
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