Australia may send more troops to Afghanistan, defense minister says

The Australian government will decide over the next few weeks whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the defense minister said Sunday.

Australia sent a contingent of 190 elite special services troops to Afghanistan in September to help stem rising Taliban and al-Qaida-led violence ahead of elections there.

Defense Minister Robert Hill said he has talked with the newly elected Afghan government about sending another 200 troops to help rebuild roads, power networks, hospitals and schools destroyed by years of war.

"We've said in principle that we would be interested in providing a provisional reconstruction team either on our own or in conjunction with other parties," Hill told the Nine television network Sunday.

He said Australia had held talks with Canada, Britain and the Netherlands about being part of a possible NATO-led mission in southern Afghanistan.

"Cabinet will consider the outcomes of those discussions over the next few weeks," Hill said, AP reported. V.A.