TRANSCRIPT: INTERVIEW WITH KIERAN GILBERT, SKY AM AGENDA
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
TOPICS: Afghanistan; Libya.
KIERAN GILBERT: Minister, thanks for your time.
STEPHEN SMITH: A pleasure.
KIERAN GILBERT: Eight soldiers killed this year, 29 in total. You and the Prime Minister say the Government says we must stay the course in Afghanistan but it's an increasingly heavy burden.
STEPHEN SMITH: Well it's always a terrible toll. It's a terrible toll this morning for an Australian family. It will be a terrible reminder for 28 other Australian families and the nation feels it so we don't walk away from that but we have to constantly make a judgement about whether what we're doing is in our national interests, in our national security interest and we continue to be of the view that being in Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate with a large contingent from the international community in an international security assistance force is the right thing to do and it is helping to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a breeding ground for terrorism.
KIERAN GILBERT: Do you have any more detail on the soldier killed here?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well the family have asked us to just not release any detail for the present. When they've come to terms with the initial shock and terrible tragedy they'll authorise us to release the details. That will be done in conjunction with the family. I'm not putting a timetable on it but other than the details of the - the initial details of the incident which the Chief of Defence Force and I released last night.
KIERAN GILBERT: On the dramatic story over the last couple of days, Libya- NATO backed the rebels of course, what's your advice now, will the Qaddafi forces in Tripoli capitulate?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well in the first instance of course a matter for the Acting Foreign Minister but the situation clearly remains quite fluid. Clearly we are seeing the end of the Qaddafi regime. How that quite unfolds, time will tell.
Australia of course would want Qaddafi to walk off the stage and for his forces to lay down their arms to ensure a smooth and orderly transition. But we're not necessarily holding our breath for that.
But the United Nations, through the Secretary-General, the entire international community are essentially calling now for a smooth and orderly and peaceful transition. We hope that occurs. It's also clearly the case that given there is a Security Council resolution which has authorised a no-fly zone and authorised an arms embargo, that the United Nations and the Security Council now needs to put its mind to what resolutions come from the Security Council in terms of an orderly transition or a further NATO - a further United Nations assistance to Libya.
KIERAN GILBERT: Minister I appreciate your time, thank you very much this morning.
STEPHEN SMITH: Thank you.