SYDNEY (AFP) — Global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has urged Australia to keep its troops in Iraq, saying victory is almost in sight there and in Afghanistan.
The Australian-born, US-based News Corp. chairman made the call during a visit to Adelaide for an annual shareholders' meeting, The Australian newspaper reported Wednesday.
"On the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we are at the point of saying, 'You have almost won it, you see this out,'" he said.
Murdoch, who controls a media empire spanning satellite-broadcasters and more than 100 newspapers worldwide, refused to be drawn on Australian elections next week, insisting he had "no view on politics at all" in his mother country.
But he nonetheless waded into the politically sensitive issue of the war in Iraq, to which conservative Prime Minister John Howard has committed some 1,575 troops, many of whom are based outside the country.
Opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd has pledged to withdraw Australia's key fighting force, a 500-strong battle group based in the south, if he wins office in the November 24 vote.
Murdoch said while he was uninformed about Australian politics, he knew something about Iraq and believed Australian forces should remain in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
"Australia has only a couple of hundred people there and I would hate to see them withdrawn," he said, suggesting the tide had turned against Al-Qaeda militants and insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
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