Australian defense minister resigns

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January 20, 2006 05:18
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Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill, who oversaw the country's involvement in the Iraq war and sent hundreds of troops to Afghanistan, resigned Friday and was expected to become ambassador to the United Nations. Hill was elected to federal parliament in 1981 and had been defense minister since 2001. During his four-year tenure, he oversaw the deployment of 2,000 Australian troops to back U.S. and British forces in the 2003 Iraq invasion. Australia - a staunch US ally - currently has 1,320 troops in and around Iraq, including a task force of 450 soldiers who are protecting Japanese military engineers engaged in humanitarian work in southern Iraq. Most recently, Hill announced that Australia would deploy 110 additional soldiers and two helicopters to Afghanistan, on top of the 190 Australian special forces troops already serving there.

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