Special report: Tension escalates in
CANBERRA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has linked the need
to secure oil supplies to the country's continued military presence in Iraq.
In a major speech outlining his government's foreign policy in Canberra on
Thursday, Prime Minister John Howard said the Middle East is crucial to
Australia's strategic and economic future.
"Islamist terrorism will remain a threat to Australia, to Australian
interests and to our allies, globally and in South East Asia," he said.
"The government remains committed to staying in Iraq with our coalition
partners until the Iraqi security forces no longer require our support," he
Australia, a close ally of the United States, joined the U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq in 2003 and keeps about 1,500 soldiers in and around the Gulf country.
The prime minister also said there is a danger that globalization would
facilitate terrorism and transnational crime and spark a resurgence of
protectionist policies that could lead to disputes over commodities like oil.
"Whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, it would not only run counter to our
national interests, but also to our national character to let (terrorists)
prevail," he said.
Australian Greens Party leader Bob Brown slammed Howard's admission that
oil supply is a reason for going to war.
"Saddam Hussein's oil, not weapons of mass destruction, was in the
Bush-Blair-Howard mindset in this monumental mistake which has cost a reported
67,000 civilian lives," he said in a statement.
"It has boosted global terrorism and undermined Australia's homeland
security," he said.