15 Oct 2012

Troop visit by Australian PM

12:02 pm on 15 October 2012

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has sought assurances from President Hamid Karzai that Afghanistan is doing everything it can to prevent insider attacks on Australian troops.

Ms Gillard met the president on Sunday during a surprise visit to Afghanistan where she also talked to Australian commanders ad troops.

Three Australian soldiers were killed by an soldier in the Afghan National Army in August.

"I sought an assurance from him that everything that can be done is being done," Ms Gillard said afterwards.

"He spoke to me about the steps being taken by Afghan forces to deal with insider attacks."

AAP reports Ms Gillard also raised the issue with the governor of Oruzgan Province, where Australian troops are stationed.

The "tragic and disturbing" incidents were designed to corrode morale, she said.

The prime minister told Mr Karzai that Australia and other nations in the International Security Assistance Force wanted assurances that aid and development efforts were "hitting the ground" and were not being taken by corrupt practices.

"We will continue to raise the need for accountability," Ms Gillard said.

AAP reports she visited the Australian base at Tarin Kowt where she discussed the security situation and progress to transition in Oruzgan Province with Australian commanders.

Later she attended a barbecue with troops.

"One reason I'm here today is just to say a big thankyou to you on behalf of the Australian nation for everything you do," Ms Gillard told them.


Ms Gillard was briefed by US General John Allen, who told her that the Afghan mission was still on track.

However, he warned her that getting the ANA and national police up to speed for transition was still two years away.

The prime minister's trip to Afghanistan was her first since a spate of fatal attacks on Australian troops.

AAP reports Ms Gillard then departed for Dubai before flying on for an official visit to India.

On Friday, she attended a memorial service marking the 10th anniversary of the Bali Bombings in 2002.