17 Apr 2012

Australia to withdraw from Afghanistan early

4:05 pm on 17 April 2012

The Australian government plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan early.

It had previously said the majority of its forces would exit in 2014 but Prime Minister Julia Gillard says it is likely they will leave by mid-next year.

Ms Gillard made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, saying she is confident that local forces in the Uruzgan region, where many of the Australian troops are based, will be ready to take control by then.

However, any withdrawal still hinges on the Afghan president Hamid Karzai declaring that he is confident Afghan troops are ready to take control.

The details will be hammered out at a crucial NATO meeting on Afghanistan in Chicago next month.