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Australia to withdraw most troops in Afghanistan

Australian troops, seen here taking position in southern Afghanistan, are set to pull out of the region at the end of this year. Australia's Defense Minister Stephen Smith said on Tuesday they'll shut down a major base for NATO-led forces, and hand security to Afghan soldiers and police. Smith said he believes the transition will be smooth when Western troops hand the air base in Uruzgan Province to local forces. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE MINISTER, STEPHEN SMITH SAYING: "If we were not confident that transition would occur in Uruzgan by the end of this year then this decision would not have been made. It is a necessary and logical and natural consequence of transition being effective in Uruzgan by the end of this year." Australia has over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, most of them based in the volatile province. Thirty-nine Australians have been killed in the war, and another 242 have been wounded. The country has not yet decided,

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