Australia's Downer: Withdrawing troops from Iraq would be 'madness'

Australia's foreign minister said Wednesday that withdrawing troops from Iraq now would be "madness," because the US-led multinational force there is finally making progress after years of battling insurgents. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's emphatic commitment was a rebuff to the opposition Labor Party's pledge to withdraw about half of Australia's 1,000 troops from Iraq if Labor comes to power in the country's elections Saturday. "The last thing we want is a sudden 180-degree change of policy on Iraq, which would only lead to a regression back to the violence we had before," Downer told reporters in Singapore, where he was attending an Asian summit in place of Prime Minister John Howard.