Australian prime minister meets country's Muslim leaders to counter extremism

The Government of Australia and moderate Muslim leaders jf the country met Tuesday to join forces in the fight against terrorism.

Critics said the exclusion of radical Muslims from the landmark summit at Parliament House risked further marginalizing young Muslims among Australia's 350,000 Islamic community.

Although Australia has never been hit by a major terror attack there are fears that Prime Minister John Howard's close links to the United States and decision to send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq have raised the country's profile as a target for Islamic anger.

Hassim Doureihi, Sydney spokesman for the radical Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group that was recently banned in Britain, said the government should accept that its foreign policy on Iraq and Afghanistan was to blame for anger among Muslims.

"It's disappointing to see that the prime minister continues to fail to acknowledge any responsibility for a condition which he gave rise to and which Western governments continue to give rise to," said Doureihi, who was not invited to the summit.

"And we reject any attempt to place the collective burden upon the Muslim community and not upon the government itself," he added.

Canberra recently increased its troop numbers in Iraq and plans to send 190 elite combat troops to Afghanistan next month to fight al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents, the AP reports.

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