SIDNEY, Sept 11 (KUNA) -- Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Tuesday his nation's troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Downer's comments came after the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said 30,000 US soldiers can be pulled out of the country and return home by mid 2008.
"Troop numbers and withdrawals should be conditions based, not time based, " Downer said.
According to Australia's ABC News, Petraeus said the additional US troops in Iraq have achieved their goals.
He recommended beginning later this month with the pullout with a contingent of US marines, followed by a gradual troops' withdrawal until nearly all of the 30,000 extra troops are home.
Petraeus also warned that a premature decrease of US troops in Iraq would be devastating, noting that another decision on force numbers could not be made until next March.(end) sk.ayh KUNA 111001 Sep 07NNNN