Australia has announced extension of its military presence in Afghanistan by six months and it could potentially stay longer considering the Afghan government's struggle to contain a resurgent Taliban, the Australian government has said.
Australia withdrew most of its troops from the conflict region in 2013 with only about 270 members continuing their combat operations there. They will now stay in Afghanistan's capital Kabul until mid-2017 and play a major role in training and assisting the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.
It has also promised to continue financial aid of $100m a year to the Afghan National Army and National Police for the next four years.
"It is vital to continue to build the capacity of the Afghan security forces to defend the Afghan people against the Taliban and other terrorist groups," Australia's caretaker government said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.
The decision was announced by the caretaker regime with the approval of the opposition as counting in the Australian election is still in progress.
The announcement by Australia has come two days after US President Barack Obama spoke of postponing his plans to scale back US troops serving in Afghanistan by almost half by the end of 2016. He said 8,400 US forces will continue to remain in the strife-torn country until the end of his administration in January 2017.
Besides the US and Australia, Afghanistan is home to nearly 3,000 other international troops serving the Nato-led Resolute Support mission.
The two-day Nato summit in the Polish capital Warsaw beginning on Friday (8 July) will discuss international contribution to Afghanistan's security and to fight the Taliban insurgency.