Australia monitoring Pakistan security ahead of tour

Published: Friday, December 28, 2007, 10:51 [IST]
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Australia will monitor developments in Pakistan following Benazir Bhutto's assassination to gauge whether the national cricket team can safely tour there next year, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

Rudd said his government would liaise closely with Cricket Australia on security issues surrounding the tour after violence erupted in Pakistan in the wake of the opposition leader's murder late Thursday.

"We've already seen evidence of violence in the short period of time that's elapsed since the assassination, in the days ahead we don't know what's yet to occur," Rudd told reporters in Melbourne.

"Therefore the most responsible course of action is for us to be in the closest possible contact with Cricket Australia so an appropriate, timely, informed decision can be made about this particular tour."

Rudd said the government's main concern was the safety and security of the Australian team, which is due to arrive in Pakistan on March 10 to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international.

Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said his organisation and the Australian Cricketers' Association would not make a decision on whether to proceed with the tour for several weeks.

"It's an appalling tragedy and we only hope that the civil situation in Pakistan can improve," Young said.

"We will make our decision in late January or February, closer to the proposed dates."

Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998, with their last scheduled tour in 2002 moved to the neutral venues of Sharjah and Colombo due to security concerns.

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