Mr Rudd came to power in landslide elections on Saturday. Australia's prime minister-elect says the country's 550 combat troops will leave Iraq by the middle of 2008. Kevin Rudd, who beat incumbent John Howard in last weekend's election, had previously promised a gradual withdrawal of Australian troops.
He made the pledge in an Australian radio interview, but said there had been no discussions yet with the US. Under Mr Howard, Australia was a keen supporter of the US-led invasion and made an early troop commitment. Most of Australia's 1,500 troops are based in the south of Iraq, focusing on security and the training of Iraqi forces. "The combat force in Iraq, we would have home by around about the middle of next year," Mr Rudd told a Melbourne radio station, adding that he would leave behind some Australian soldiers, including those providing security at Australia's embassy in Baghdad. "We'll have a meeting with the United States ambassador before too long to set up the appropriate processes for discussing that," he said.
Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd came to power in a landslide election victory on Saturday. He has previously described the decision to go to war as the "single greatest error" of Australian national security and foreign policy decision-making since the Vietnam war // BBC