Melbourne: On her way to India, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a surprise visit to her country's troops in the province of Oruzgan in Afghanistan and held talks with President Hamid Karzai.
In a snap day-long trip to Afghanistan yesterday, Gillard went to Kabul and the Australian base at Tarin Kowt, where she had a barbecue with troops and visited a hospital, local media here reported.
The Prime Minister praised Australian soldiers for sticking to their mission despite the deadly attack in August.
Australia suffered its deadliest day in combat since the Vietnam War when five troops were killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan on August 30.
Three of the soldiers were killed in an insider attack, with the five bringing to 38 the number of Australian lives lost in conflict in the region.
"I wanted to say a big thank you to our troops for everything they're doing in such difficult circumstances," Gillard was quoted as saying by the ABC news.
"We have experienced many losses. There has been a lot of heartache. But talking to the troops today morale is good and that is a real tribute to them," she said.
Gillard met Karzai and discussed about insider attacks on Australian soldiers in the war-torn country.
"Clearly these have been tragic and disturbing incidents designed to corrode morale," she said.
"Everything needs to be done on the Afghan side to deal with the possibility of insider attacks and so I spoke about that."
She would now head to New Delhi, where talks on uranium exports will be high on the agenda.
Last year, Gillard overturned decades of Labor policy by announcing Australia would consider selling uranium to India.
It is understood negotiations are progressing but that a deal is at least six months away, according to ABC news report.